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Flybe drops Heathrow to Leeds Bradford for Newquay, launches nine new routes

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Flybe has been finalising its Winter schedules, set to start on 30th October and run until the end of March 2023.

There are a number of changes, with the launch of 9 new routes according to AeroRoutes:

  • Belfast City – Edinburgh, starts 15th December, 13 weekly flights
  • Birmingham – Aberdeen, starts 9th February, daily flights
  • Birmingham – Edinburgh, starts 24th November, more than triple daily
  • Birmingham – Glasgow, starts 24th November, 19 weekly flights
  • London Heathrow – Newquay starts 30th October, 12 weekly flights
  • Manchester – Newquay, starts 30th October, daily flights
  • Southampton – Edinburgh, starts 2nd March, daily flights
  • Southampton – Glasgow, starts 2nd March, daily flights
  • Southampton – Manchester, starts 2nd March, 12 weekly flights
Flybe Winter 22-23 network

However, the most interesting news is that ….

Flybe drops Heathrow to Leeds Bradford in favour of Newquay

Flybe has decided to withdraw its direct flights from Heathrow to Leeds Bradford and replace them with direct flights to Newquay.

In a sign of just how poor yields were, the change is being made over the Winter season – starting on 30th October – which isn’t exactly peak season for travel to Cornwall.

The flights will be double daily Monday to Friday, and will be joined by a daily link from Newquay to Manchester. The flight times are as follows:

  • BE801 departs Newquay at 06:35 and lands in Heathrow at 08:00
  • BE802 departs Heathrow at 08:45 and arrives in Newquay at 10:15
  • BE807 departs Newquay at 18:35 and lands in Heathrow at 20:00
  • BE808 departs Heathrow at 20:45 and arrives in Newquay at 22:10

The timings appear to be optimised for commuters heading from Cornwall to London. Flights departing Heathrow start at £54.99 whilst flights from Newquay are £39.99 – likely due to the cheaper costs of operating from Newquay.

Note that these flights are not being underwritten by the government under the public service obligation (PSO). The local authority in Cornwall was willing to subsidise flights to London by £125,000 per month, year round, to ensure air connectivity. This contract was picked up by British Airways and more recently Eastern Airways (flying from Gatwick) since the old Flybe went bust in 2020.

Flybe seat closeup

Flybe is the third airline to try services between London and Leeds Bradford in recent years and follows in the well-worn footsteps of bmi and British Airways.

In theory, it should have been easier for Flybe to make a go of it compared to British Airways thanks to its smaller aircraft. With the train clocking in at just over two hours to Leeds, however, it made little sense given the transfer time from Heathrow into London. Connecting from Flybe to a long haul flight was also difficult due to lack of through-ticketing.

Whilst making money from Newquay looks hard, it is possible that Flybe is being paid by a third airline to slot-sit, to stop the Heathrow slots being forfeited before their original owner can resume their full pre-pandemic service. This would effectively subsidise the service in a similar way to Eastern’s PSO agreement.

Regardless, it does seem very bizarre that Winter flights to Newquay appear to be the most profitable option for Flybe.

Tickets are now on sale on the Flybe website here. You can read our review of Flybe’s inaugural flight here.

Comments (43)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Alan says:

    It is interesting that LHR-LBA route wasn’t viable. Tried to book with Flybe a couple of times and could not get a pair of seats. Similarly the early days of the BA flights were pretty full every time that I flew with them. Only went awry when the changed the flight times so that it was almost impossible to get a decent connection westward, so an overnight at Heathrow became necessary

  • Mark Janes says:

    Apart from competition from the fast rail service between Leeds and London, the other issue with LBA is that it’s a pig to get to from the city centre and tends to be plagued with weather problems.

  • Nathan says:

    I once worked a contract in Leeds. The office was a stroll from the station. For a meeting in London the Great and the Good decided we should fly down. The taxi to the airport took over an hour and security the same. Fortunately, the inbound was delayed so we made it on to the plane and the dozen or so passengers total took off at approximately the same time as a notional train would have been arriving at King’s Cross.

    Suffice it to say that GNER, as was at the time, won all such future business.

    • TimM says:

      Yes, so called ‘Leeds Bradford’ airport is terrible to get to by road or public transport. I was astonished that the latest major investment did not include a rail connection. If you happen to live in Yeadon, I am sure it is very convenient, if you drive. LBA is best not mentioned as a serious airport. Even if you live in Leeds, Manchester airport is easier to get to.

      • List says:

        Don’t talk rubbish. Leeds Station Wellington St to the airport on the Flyer Bus every 20 mins, Harrogate Flyer to LBA every hour or a train to Horsforth from York or Leeds and then get an £8, 5 min Taxi to the terminal. All very easy.

  • Sarah says:

    I used to fly regularly from Exeter to Leeds and it was always full. Airlines need to look at routes where it takes more than 2 hours by train. The leeds flight used to then go on the Scotland

  • James Harper says:

    I had a LHR-LBA regular commute years ago and it was easy – operated by British Midland – not bmi, the earlier version that operated decent services and frequencies and still made money. IIRC, there were five DC-9 operated services in each direction every day and the route was busy.

  • Jonny Price says:

    Ingredients for a successful LBA-LHR route:

    (a) An early morning departure from LBA (ie: aircraft nightstopping/based at LBA) and at least two flights per day on weekdays allowing for daytrips and maximising opportunities for long haul connections
    (b) Interline/ticketing agreements with a major long haul carrier that operates from the same terminal at LHR (allowing short connection times)

    Flybe/bmi managed (a) at points and BA managed (b) – but the route will only ever work with both.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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