“Give Heathrow the green light, so we can jump into action on critical regional routes”, says Flybe CEO
New Heathrow proposals welcomed by Europe’s largest regional airline
3rd October 2016
- Flybe now reviewing the feasibility of up to 12 critical new routes, ready to enter into the next phase of discussions with the airport and realise the benefits that ‘25,000 new flights by 2021’ could bring
- A green light from Government will deliver the fastest, most convenient and frequent air services for Britain
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has today (3rd October 2016) noted with interest the proposed plan announced by Heathrow Airport last week to enter into immediate consultation following a Government decision to build a third runway there. The plan features a proposal to fast-track extra capacity within four years with an extra 25,000 new flight movements by 2021 on existing runways. In addition, and to help establish new domestic connections, it would ring-fence this early additional capacity solely for domestic flights, extend until 2037 a £10 discount for every departing passenger flying from Heathrow to a UK destination, and bring forward a £10m ‘route development fund’ to 2021.
Flybe operates a large fleet of smaller, environmentally efficient aircraft and with ambitions to extend its network to incorporate Heathrow, Flybe CEO Saad Hammad has long requested that the airport to reduce to an affordable level the costs to those regional airline operators striving to provide broader access for domestic UK travellers to Britain’s largest international hub airport. This to be coupled with the decision that any incremental runway capacity agreed also feature guaranteed and affordable slots for regional routes served by smaller aircraft. Hammad has stressed that any future hub airport in London needs to be a truly ‘national’ asset rather than something built solely to serve South East-based passengers or global passengers connecting through the South East.
“Flybe is heartened by the proposed plan announced last week by Heathrow,” he said. “It paves the way for us, as champions of regional connectivity, to jump quickly into action. I am confident we are now in a good position to explore the viability and commercial feasibility of introducing a number of critical new routes for domestic connectivity as soon as the new slots were to become available at Heathrow, to and from where many of our codeshare partners offer seamless onward long haul connections for regional passengers.”
The routes under consideration include:
- Carlisle Lake District
- Durham Tees
- Doncaster Sheffield
- Isle of Man
In the interim before additional capacity is added in 2021, Flybe will continue to lobby the UK government for RAF Northolt to be utilised temporarily for scheduled commercial flights. This readily available option could immediately serve to link under-served regional airports to London, either for point to point travel or for onward connections to Heathrow from RAF Northolt that is only a short drive away. “This proposal is independent of any future plan for new airport capacity in the South East and is a solution that is available right here, right now,” adds Hammad. “It would bring the advantages of additional runway capacity to serve UK passengers in the immediate term and without requiring any taxpayer funding.”
Concluding, Hammad says: “To effectively compete in a post-Brexit environment whilst a third runway is built in the South East, and in light of the new Heathrow plans, Flybe would strongly urge the Government to give an expanded Heathrow the green light. Together we can then start without further undue delay to deliver the fastest, most convenient and frequent selection of regional air services that Britain badly needs.”