Flybe has launched its Summer schedule for 2020, which will be the first to reflect its new focus under Virgin Atlantic ownership. Seven new routes have been announced.
Having attended the Virgin Connect (as Flybe will be rebranded) launch event last month, I can confirm that the new management team is very focused on returning the airline to profitability. Part of this was to be a razor-sharp focus on routes where it believes it can make money over the long term.
The biggest changes will be at London Southend Airport. Perhaps not coincidentally, Southend is owned by Stobart Group which is also a shareholder in Flybe.
Six new routes will be launched from Southend to Belfast City, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Isle of Man and Jersey. Existing services from Southend to Caen, Groningen, Newquay and Rennes will continue. Loganair immediately responded by announcing plans to drop its own Southend to Glasgow service.
The only other brand new route is Manchester to Stuttgart. Growth elsewhere is focused on increasing frequency on core business routes from Manchester and Southampton as well as retiming flights to better fit around the working day.
The BBC is reporting, however, that Southampton Airport is due to see substantial cuts overall. Routes to Faro, Palma, Alicante, Malaga, Biarritz, Nantes, Bordeaux, Dusseldorf and Bastia will be dropped. Flybe is the dominant carrier at the airport and this will cause it substantial difficulties unless new carriers come in.
With the exception of Dusseldorf, the Southampton changes seem to be in line with Flybe’s new approach. It will be reducing its focus on holiday routes in order to concentrate on business and ‘visiting friends and family’ services.
Flybe has said that there will be more announcements to come so we can expect additional services to be announced over the coming months.
Tickets are now on sale at flybe.com for the Summer season, which runs until late October.