Flybe has returned to Britain’s skies, kicking off this week with daily flights from Birmingham to Belfast.
The inaugural flight to Belfast
Flybe flight BE404 departed Birmingham Airport shortly after 9 am yesterday, arriving at Belfast City Airport 51 minutes later. It was a big day for Flybe, a triumphant return to the skies over two years since they went into administration. The relaunch was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their base in Birmingham airport, with FlyBe CEO Dave Pflieger and the airport’s Chief executive Nick Barton holding the tape.
Tickets for the inaugural flight could be purchased for as little as £19.99 one way if you booked early enough or £271.99 if you booked the day before. However, it’s fair to say that few people would have been travelling for leisure. According to those aboard, the maiden voyage was mainly populated by those involved in the company’s relaunch, plus a few avgeeks and the pilots’ families.
Who is Flybe?
Before its demise, Flybe was the largest regional carrier in the UK and, for a time, the largest independent airline in Europe. The firm started facing financial difficulties at the start of 2020. Virgin Atlantic led a rescue consortium that injected £100 million in an effort to save the company, but it was no use – on 5 March 2020, the Flybe went into administration.
Six months later, whilst the pandemic was ravaging the airline industry, one of the partners of the failed rescue consortium, Cyrus Capital, stepped in and bought the brand. The new owners decided they would relaunch the airline, aiming to “start small and restore regional connectivity in the UK”. And they appear to have come through on that promise.
In the coming months, the airline will gradually add more destinations from its hub in Birmingham. The Belfast City route will now run up to four times daily, with more routes being added between 28 April and 25 August. Airline CEO Dave Pflieger said:
“Over the coming weeks and months, our flight schedule will further ramp up as we take delivery of additional aircraft and serve other new destinations from Birmingham, including Amsterdam, Avignon, Brest, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.”
The airline operates a fleet of 32 turboprops, including the Dash 8-400 (Q400). Birmingham Airport Chief Executive Nick Barton said:
“I am thrilled to see Flybe back again. With Covid travel restrictions lifted and many thousands of Britons taking to the skies once more, I am confident we’ll see strong demand for Flybe’s core UK, Dutch and French routes.”
How do you feel about the return of Flybe? Let us know in the comments below!