Regional airline Blue Islands has announced a major expansion, starting with Southampton and Exeter.
The collapse of Flybe earlier this year has led to expansion opportunities for the other small UK airlines – Loganair, Eastern and Blue Islands.
Whilst a handful of Flybe routes may be big enough for Ryanair and easyJet to operate, the vast majority are not economic unless you are using small turboprop aircraft. Loganair, Eastern and Blue Islands are best placed to pick up this slack.
Eastern and Blue Islands were previously Flybe franchisees so it was relatively easy – once they had launched their own booking sites – to restart the routes they used to run. They are now adding new routes which Flybe used to fly directly.
Blue Islands has been flying since 1999 under various brands although it has used Blue Islands since 2006. It has 130 staff based across Jersey and Guernsey.
Last week the Government of Jersey announced a £10 million soft loan to Blue Islands. The collapse of Flybe has exposed the risks of losing air connectivity and it intends to build up Blue Islands as a ‘national champion’.
Jersey is a small market, of course, so Blue Islands also intends to launch additional hubs. The first is Southampton, where one 70-seat ATR72 will be permanently based.
From 31st August, it will fly:
Southampton – Jersey (daily, rising to double daily)
Southampton – Manchester (daily)
Southampton – Dublin (daily)
Southampton – Guernsey (double daily)
There will also be additional Jersey routes:
Bristol – Jersey (4x weekly from 3rd August, daily from September)
Exteter – Jersey (3 x weekly from 3rd September)
Birmingham – Jersey (4x weekly from 31st August)
East Midlands – Jersey (3x weekly from 29th September)
Exeter to Manchester will also launch on 31st August.
The airline has launched a new livery. Here is the Flybe franchised version:
and here is the new independent livery:
The new Blue Islands website is here. At some point I will take a look at their new frequent flyer scheme, the Blue Skies Club.