13th June 2009
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, is absolutely thrilled with the news that its popular and highly regarded Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim French has been recognised in the 2009 Queens Birthday Honours’ List with a CBE for his services to the UK airline industry.
Mark Chown, Deputy Chairman of the Flybe Board says: "We are all absolutely delighted with this outstanding news. Jim is an exceptional leader and he thoroughly deserves this prestigious honour. He is one of the most respected people in aviation and, on behalf of all of his friends and colleagues in the industry, I’d like to extend our warmest congratulations to him. Jim has been instrumental in building Flybe as an innovative and profitable airline and the 3,000 staff at Flybe are very proud to have him as their Chief Executive.”
Jim French comments: “"This is a great honour for me personally. I am very proud to have been involved in Regional Aviation for so many years since I genuinely believe we play a significant role in regional economies and social development.
I am also very, very proud of leading Flybe. A great airline, with great staff and the best management team in the industry. It is because of everyone else's efforts in working with me to make Flybe the success it is today that I have been given this recognition."
Mr French joined Jersey European Airways (as Flybe was prior to 2001) in 1991 as Commercial Director and shortly after was appointed Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer.
In June 2001 he was appointed Managing Director and was challenged with turning the company around in order for it to survive. Faced with fierce competition from the emergence of low cost travel, further compounded by the aftermath of September 11th, he set about transforming the company into a leading and highly successful business model.
Over the last eight years, Jim has transformed Flybe from a traditional legacy carrier to becoming Europe’s largest regional airline and, in the process, created a new breed of regional low fares airlines, pioneering the way in the low cost travel revolution.
With these radical changes Jim turned the company’s £20 million loss to a profit and latest traffic figures show a phenomenal 36% year on year growth: he was appointed Chairman of Flybe in April 2005 and Chief Executive Officer in November 2005.
Jim is a passionate advocate of the short haul airline industry and began his aviation career in 1970 with Caledonian Airways. He then joined Air UK in 1980 and during his ten years there, held various director roles, including those in commercial, marketing and planning.
He lives in Devon, is married to Alison and has three daughters.