Flybe looks at expansion after profitable year

FLYBE, the UK’s largest domestic airline, has flown back into profit despite the damaging effects of the recession on the commercial aviation industry and has set its sites on expansion in Western Europe.

Pre-tax profit excluding one-off items in the year to 31 March 2010 came to £5.7m, marking a rise from last year when profits were just £100,000.

Chief executive Jim French said: “Against a backdrop of the continued impact of the recession and the effects of extreme volatility in fuel prices, Flybe grew its market share.”

However, underlying profit fell from £12.8m to £6.8m during the year, despite flat passenger numbers of 7.2m.

Revenue for the year also remained flat at £570.5m, despite the airline taking a £12m hit from the closure of airspace in April and May due to the Icelandic volcano.

But Flybe management is eyeing expansion in Western Europe.

The airline has already struck an operational agreement with Olympic Air in Greece and has signed a codesharing deal with Air France. The firm is also in talks with Finnair about regional services in the Nordic region.