Flybe profits hit by volcano

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Flybe remained buoyant yesterday despite the Exeter airline reporting heavy losses after last year’s Icelandic volcanic eruption and arctic winter conditions disrupted flights.

The company made an annual pre-tax loss of £4.3m, compared with a profit of £24.6m the previous year. Yet analysts remained upbeat, saying the results were “no surprise” after the company issued a profit warning in May.

The effects of ash cloud together with severe weather conditions across the UK last winter forced Flybe to cancel 5,157 flights.

The airline, which operates largely across UK regional airports, estimated that the total impact on the company was £18.1m.

Flybe said its underlying profit excluding these losses was £22.3m, and expects to make pre-tax profits of about £22m in the current year.

Andrew Fitchie, head of Investec’s UK research team said profits were on target.: “Current trading is encouraging, with an increase in forward ticket sales growth since early May.

The regional airline, which floated for £60m last year, confirmed it was in talk with several European airlines regarding expansion opportunities.

Shares in Flybe were pushed up 16.00p, or 9.5 per cent.