Flybe jobs warning as airline dips into red

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REGIONAL airline Flybe has warned jobs may be at risk as it slashes costs after the most challenging conditions in its 10-year history sent it into the red.

The carrier, which operates from Leeds Bradford, Humberside and Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield airports, outlined plans to make annual savings equivalent to £2 per seat as it said there was “little sign of recovery” in the UK domestic market.

It warned there may be some impact on its workforce, consisting of 3,000 staff in the UK, as part of a group-wide review of costs, but will give further details in the new year. Flybe reported pre-tax losses of £1.3m in the six months to September 30 against profits of £14.3m a year earlier after being hit by sky-high fuel costs and falling numbers of fliers.

The group saw UK passenger numbers fall 3.6 per cent to 4 million in the half-year. Its fuel costs leapt 22.7 per cent to £68.6m, or from £8.73 to £11.06 per seat, and it said demand was being stifled by air passenger duty hikes. The group said: “Flybe is currently operating in possibly the most challenging conditions since its creation as a new-generation regional airline 10 years ago.

“The UK domestic aviation market has seen passenger numbers reduce by 20.6 per cent since 2007, UK air passenger duty increased by 160 per cent over the same period and fuel prices are at record annual highs.”

Yesterday’s results came after the group warned over full-year profits in August.

Revenues at Flybe UK were held largely firm at £328.5m in the first half and the group said forward sales for winter were ahead by around 2.5 per cent year-on-year in the UK after cutting capacity to match lower levels of demand.

But chief executive Jim French said the group had no choice but to cut costs in the UK, with “no sign of any glimmer of hope” of a turnaround in the UK market.