Flybe profits tumble after share price nosedived to an all-time low this week

 
Rebecca Smith
Brexit hasn't been easy on European airlines
Brexit hasn't been easy on European airlines (Source: Flybe)

Half-year results for Flybe showed a slump in profits as it feels the effects of a falling pound, but chairman Simon Laffin is doing his best to find the positives.

The figures

There was a 12.8 per cent rise in group revenue to £383m thanks to higher passenger volumes in Flybe UK and increased revenue in its aviation services.

But adjusted profit before tax was £15.9m (down 25 per cent from £21.1m this time last year), which the airline said "reflected the impact of challenging external market conditions".

Profit before tax of £7m (down from £22.9m) took a hefty hit from the fall in sterling, increasing the cost of USD loans on aircraft.

Flybe UK had a 10.2 per cent increase in revenue to £364.6m and a 13.5 per cent increase in seat capacity and 7.1 per cent increase in passenger volumes to 4.8m. But adding new routes, along with a weak aviation market contributed to a drop in load factor by 4.3 percentage points to 72 per cent.

Shares opened the week at an all-time low of 33.25p, and edged up 1.25p to 36.25p, but last year they were trading at more than 90p.

Why it's interesting

Chief executive Saad Hammad suddenly left the company at the end of last month after three years in the role. Flybe said it had reached a "mutual agreement" to part ways with Hammad. The company had reported a £35.6m loss in 2015, but swung back to into a £2.7m profit this year, so all eyes were on the airline in a turbulent environment.

It follows similar comments from other carriers - Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways owner IAG and Lufthansa, have all warned on trading conditions.

What the company said

Simon Laffin, executive chairman, said the board was "confident of Flybe's resilience in this market" and the airline's strategy remained unchanged after completing its transformation strategy started three years go.

He said:

The aviation market is tough at the moment, with excess seat capacity in the European short-haul market coupled with a weaker pound, and both business and consumer uncertainty impacting all airlines.

However, Flybe has a robust balance sheet and cash position. From this strong position, over the next 12 months, we will open our first European base in Dusseldorf and continue to cautiously test routes to maximise the returns from our existing capacity.

In short

A whirlwind of a year for Flybe - what with a capital raise, brand re-launch, addressing legacy fleet issues and building a new management team - in a difficult market. It's braced for more Brexit turbulence with the pound's steep slide.

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