Weather cancellations cost Flybe £4m

Regional carrier Flybe faces a bad weather bill of £4 million after nearly 1,000 flights were cancelled during February and March.

Airport closures and flight cancellations across the UK and the Continent due to “extremely poor weather” particularly affected the regional airline.

Flybe was forced to cancel 994 flights due to weather in the fourth quarter of its financial year, compared to 372 in the same three-month period to March 31 2017.

“As a result, we anticipate this to have an impact of around £4 million from lost revenue and additional care and assistance costs on cancelled and delayed flights,” the airline said in a trading update.

“Coming so late in the financial year means that this added loss will be reflected in our full-year financial results.”

Load factors in the winter quarter rose by 6.8 percentage points to 73.5% as capacity was cut. As a result, estimated passenger revenue per seat was up by 9% to £50.84.

Passenger carryings rose by 3.7% to two million, even though capacity was reduced by 6%.

Flybe has returned five out of six aircraft as they came to the end of their leases, with the final one to be returned in early April to give a fleet size of 79.

“Very early indications of our summer trading are encouraging, with an estimated 7.5% increase in passenger revenue per seat offsetting an expected 7.9% decrease in capacity,” the carrier said.

The airline has sold 21% of capacity for the first half of the new financial year, compared to 20% sold at the same time last year.

This comes as part of a strategy to reduce capacity to focus on profitable flying.

Flybe last month rejected a take-over bid from Southend airport and Stobart Air owner Stobart Group.

Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener (pictured) said: “The Flybe strategy, as set out in our business plan to reduce the fleet size, is delivering higher load factors and revenue per seat.

“The drive to reduce costs is continuing, given added impetus by the rise in fuel prices and lower value of sterling.

“Despite these headwinds, the foundations are being put in place to strengthen the business and we remain confident that our strategy will continue to improve performance as we go into the new financial year.”