Flybe reveals first 23 routes involving 16 airports; much more focus on Belfast than Birmingham
The ‘new’ Flybe finally revealed its first 23 routes earlier today. These are spread across 16 airports; seven in England, four in Scotland, three in France, and one each in Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. The first flight is set to launch in just 22 days on 13 April. Having already announced crew bases at Birmingham and Belfast BHD, it will come as no surprise that 17 of the routes involve one of these airports and another route connects the two airports. That leaves five routes that do not involve either airport. The following list summarises the new routes and also looks at the competition announced so far on each route in August 2022, based on the latest available schedule data from Cirium.
From Birmingham (seven routes):
- Belfast BHD from 13 April, up to 4-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, 20-weekly)
- Amsterdam from 28 April, daily (KLM, 33-weekly and Jet2.com, 2-weekly)
- Avignon from 9 July, weekly (none)
- Brest from 9 July, weekly (none)
- Edinburgh from 28 July, up to 4-daily (easyJet, 13-weekly)
- Glasgow from 28 July, up to 3-daily (easyJet, 14-weekly)
- Aberdeen from 18 August, daily (Loganair, 17-weekly)
From Belfast BHD (12 routes):
- Birmingham from 13 April, up to 4-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, 20-weekly)
- Glasgow from 14 April, up to 4-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, daily)
- Leeds Bradford from 28 April, up to 3-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, 13-weekly)
- London LHR from 28 April, up to 2-daily (British Airways, 31-weekly and Aer Lingus Regional, 21-weekly)
- Amsterdam from 28 May, daily (KLM, daily)
- Edinburgh from 23 June, up to 3-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, 13-weekly)
- East Midlands from 7 July, up to 2-daily (none)
- Manchester from 7 July, up to 4-daily (Aer Lingus Regional, 19-weekly)
- Southampton from 28 July, up to 2-daily (Eastern Airways, 11-weekly)
- Aberdeen from 25 August, up to 4-weekly (Loganair, daily)
- Inverness from 25 August, up to 4-weekly (Loganair, 6-weekly)
- Newcastle from 25 August, daily (none)
In addition to the direct competition from Belfast BHD, it is worth noting that easyJet serves eight of these 12 destinations from Belfast BFS. The four destinations it does not serve from Belfast BFS are Aberdeen, East Midlands, London LHR and Southampton. Experience and history suggest that the level of planned competition between Aer Lingus Regional (actually mostly operated by newcomer Emerald Airlines) and Flybe is not sustainable in the UK domestic market. With both airlines operating similarly sized turboprops, neither would appear to have a significant aircraft advantage, so it may come down to who has the deeper pockets, as price competition is likely to be intense. In the short term at least, passengers wanting to travel to and from Belfast will benefit.
Others (five routes):
- East Midlands to Amsterdam from 28 April, daily (none)
- Leeds Bradford to London LHR from 28 April, up to 3-daily (none)
- London LHR to Amsterdam from 29 May, up to 2-daily (KLM, 70-weekly and British Airways, 55-weekly)
- Southampton to Avignon from 23 July, weekly (none)
- Southampton to Toulon from 24 July, weekly (none)
Heathrow and Leeds Bradford were most recently connected by British Airways with 10-weekly service until the start of the pandemic. The route between East Midlands and Amsterdam was served daily by Flybe until February 2020.
Of the 19 routes that will be served at least 4-weekly, there is direct competition on 15 of them, which is just over 75%. With such a strong focus on UK domestic routes, Flybe will be frustrated that the government’s plans to reduce APD (Air Passenger Duty) on domestic flights is not set to be implemented until 2023.
Air Service One will continue to follow developments at the new Flybe with considerable interest as it attempts to (re-)establish itself on the UK aviation scene. We wish it well.