FLYBE is returning to London with domestic routes aimed at business travellers, which it hopes will tempt time-poor passengers away from road and rail.
The regional airline is launching five UK services from London City Airport in October, just over a year after it left Gatwick during its restructuring.
Flights from the east London airport to Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Inverness and Exeter start from £34.99 one way – rising to £250 and beyond for flexible tickets with extras such as extra bag allowance and unlimited snacks.
Chief exec Saad Hammad told City A.M.:
“We give a direct link to business in the regions to central London and Canary Wharf, rather than schlepping out to Heathrow of Gatwick. We’re backing that up with low pricing...We’re going to be the champion of the regional customer.”
By comparison, a standard single train ticket to Edinburgh in October is going for £125 on the Trainline, rising to £208 for first class.
“The first train out of Exeter gets into London at 8.38am but our first flight gets in at 8am, so we’re able to give our customer a full day in London. The train services haven’t covered themselves in glory when it comes to punctuality either,” said Hammad, who took over as boss last summer and is working through a recovery plan for the loss-making airline.
Flybe estimates that just under half of its passengers travel for business reasons. It aims to bring half a million passengers a year into London City on its new services, giving a boost to the airport, which last year took 3.4m passengers. While most of the new routes are uncontested, Flybe will compete with CityJet and British Airways on some of the services.
The airline will dip into its recent £150m fundraising to get the new routes off the ground.