FLYBE, the Exeter-based airline that links Scotland with southern England and
western Europe, has reported soaring profits but said it will reduce capacity
by 6% during the winter amid falling demand.

Europe’s biggest regional airline said underlying profits rose 74% to £14.3 million
in the six months to September 30 after it was lifted by higher passenger numbers
in the UK and the acquisition of an airline in Finland.

The carrier said revenues at its UK business, including Scottish operations,
increased 7% to £329.1m in the half-year, although the figures were lifted by
weaker comparatives last year when planes were grounded by last year’s Icelandic
ash cloud.

Seats flown were up 3% at 6.4 million in the first half, but down more than 1%
excluding the impact of the volcanic ash disruption.

The group, which flies from airports including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham,
Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster and East Midlands, said revenues from forward ticket
sales for this winter are 1% lower than a year ago.

The carrier said it will reduce the number of seats flown over the winter by
6% compared to a year ago as it matches capacity with demand.

The fall in winter sales comes on the back of a recent warning that demand had
slowed in September, meaning half-year revenues would come in lower than was thought.

Douglas McNeill, an analyst at Charles Stanley, said: “Demand doesn’t appear
to have recovered much since the profit warning in early October, and that’s a

The plan to cut winter flights follows Ryanair’s decision to ground more planes
with passenger numbers falling by 10%.

Flybe said: “The short-term focus is to continue to protect profits and our market
leading position in the UK by matching seat capacity and demand.”