Flybe launched its first service to London City Airport yesterday, aiming to connect the regions with the heart of London’s financial district, just over a year after it left Gatwick during its restructuring.
Chief executive Saad Hammad told City A.M. that he expects the six new routes – which will see the City connected with direct links to Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness – to carry over half a million passengers in the first year.
“Half our customers are business travellers, who first and foremost want connectivity from Belfast to London City. Likewise there are people in Inverness, Edinburgh or indeed Exeter who also want easy connectivity to the heart of financial district,” said Hammad. “In our first year we are expecting to carry over half a million passengers on these routes… last year we carried 8m passengers over our network, so an extra half a million in one year isn’t insignificant.”
The launch at City Airport yesterday saw both the Minister of State for Transport John Hayes and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond marking the event.
“We have long stressed the economic benefits of improving Scotland’s connectivity, so these services will be no doubt be welcomed by companies in the central belt, the north east and the Highlands who are looking to do business in London and further afield,” said Salmond.
The move represents part of a strategic shift to restructure the airline to return to profit by focusing on regional routes and pulling out of international travel, led by Hammad, who took up the post last August.
Flybe’s shares rose 5.44 per cent yesterday to close up at 116.25p in London on the news.