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Mr A Tis 5th Sep 2021 10:06

There isn't even a daily service between MAN -SOU, Eastern are only operating 5 days a week (no Tue & Wed flights).
Between Eastern (Sou-MAN) & Blue Island (Ext-MAN) I have had 5 flights cancelled over the last couple of months.
With such unreliability I'm no longer booking these flights, but using the train that take insanely long travel times & often ridiculous pricing.
Without any reliability of at least a daily service between these points, the demand is never going to recover. To go from 6 x Dash 8s a day to 5 ATRs a week is a heck of a drop even when C19 is taken into account & with the poor ground transportation on offer. I don't know what the "optimum" offering should be, but Eastern & Blue Island haven't found it.

OzzyOzBorn 5th Sep 2021 16:35

Mr A Tis ... You elaborate my point with great eloquence. There remains ample opportunity for additional frequencies on core domestic commuter routes whether provided by FlyBe 2.0 or any alternative carrier.

SWBKCB 5th Sep 2021 16:39


I have had 5 flights cancelled over the last couple of months.
Surely that depends on the reason for flights being cancelled - if it is lack of demand, should they be putting more flights on to stimulate demand by increasing flexibility or is that chucking good money after bad? I think we are still some way from being able to draw conclusions on what the market is going to be like

Albert Hall 5th Sep 2021 17:30

I think it is indeed much too early.


You elaborate my point with great eloquence. There remains ample opportunity for additional frequencies on core domestic commuter routes whether provided by FlyBe 2.0 or any alternative carrier.
I don't think they do! I could be mistaken, but I thought both Eastern and Blue Islands had double-daily services on SOU-MAN and EXT-MAN on sale for September until fairly recently. If my memory is right, the point that they've deferred frequency increases to a business schedule means that they don't see the demand coming through to support it. Equally if another airline thought there was a gap on the likes of SOU-MAN, I am sure that Loganair (not normally slow in having a pop at Eastern) would be stepping in - and they are not. That must surely tell you something.

Reading between the lines on all of this says that the market is not back at this stage to support higher frequencies. Whether and when it will return is a question that's impossible to answer.

OzzyOzBorn 5th Sep 2021 23:13

With respect, your timeframe presumes that we discuss the immediate term. That is not the premise that I am highlighting. Any added capacity coming from FlyBe 2.0 in particular (if it transpires) must be considered over a period of many months at least. We are in a time of considerable uncertainty, with fears widely expressed that C-19 restrictions could be ramped up again over the coming Winter months. In this environment, air transport generally will remain depressed. Airlines will be justifiably reluctant to take on risk at a time like this. Interline isn't back in any meaningful way. Businesses remain wary of liability if employees fall sick in the course of a work-related trip. Winter is the low-season for leisure travel at the best of times, barring a short window either side of Christmas and New Year. Airlines across all sectors had placed speculative capacity on sale for the season ahead in the hope that Covid restrictions would be a thing of the past. They aren't. And the mood music from Whitehall suggests that barriers to travel will remain in place until Easter 2022 at the earliest. But the implications of that do not define the long-term market potential of specific inter-regional routes once the pandemic is deemed to have passed. The whole industry is in survival mode in the immediate term, not just the regional carriers.

The question raised was whether the market for inter-regional air travel can absorb a new entrant carrier such as FlyBe 2.0. My contention is that the opportunity is there, because those core routes once flown by legacy FlyBe have been adopted on a token basis only at this point. Carriers have staked their claim, so to speak. Frequency increases proposed by carriers such as Loganair, Eastern and Blue Islands have not been sustained because we're still in the thick of 'Covidworld' in the short term, not because the public will never want to fly again. First, we must restore confidence in air travel generally - that is likely to be a tough ask during this Winter at least. Eastern and Blue Islands et al are absolutely right to sidestep the risk of committing to expansion of fleet and crew until this uncertain phase passes.

Looking at our examples of SOU-MAN and EXT-MAN again, a chicken-and-egg situation afflicted the Summer months. The sustained re-emergence of inter-regional business travel requires a day return capability which hasn't yet been restored. So demand remains depressed by default, even during the most optimistic weeks of Summer. And connecting opportunities have been annihilated, with overseas flights thwarted by travel bans, time-consuming document inspections and endless uncertainty. Though fares offered have been high on the few services which have been operating between SOU/EXT - MAN. When discussing ANY route proposition, we must consider the environment whilst C-19 continues to dominate everything quite seperately from "normal" latent demand post-covid. And yes, the transition period between the two will be gradual requiring weeks and months, the rebound will not be instantaneous.

But the collapse of legacy FlyBe took some 70+ aircraft out of the market. Stobart followed with a further 18 or so. Eastern and Blue Islands are tiny by comparison. They can only scrape the surface of this opportunity unless they are prepared to multiply in size in the face of the worst short-term market conditions the industry has ever seen. Nobody could recommend such a course. Meanwhile, a new entrant such as FlyBe 2.0 (or whoever) enjoys the advantage of choosing the opportune moment to enter the fray, and the rate at which they add capacity. Caution makes sense for all until C-19 travel restrictions are firmly in the rear view mirror. But don't presume that inter-regional routes which sustained healthy demand pre-covid have been killed off forever. Airlines must plan for life after Covid. The "gap in the market" which airlines may perceive is strictly a prize for after the lifting of government restrictions beyond fear of sudden reimposition.

anothertyke 6th Sep 2021 09:40

You may be right Ozzy. But that depends on the theory that there was a profitable core thin man in a well managed FlyBe 1 if only it could be successfully identified. The alternative proposition is that in an average year, FlyBe had a set of activities all of which would cover variable costs and make a positive contribution, but the sum just didn't add up to coverage of indirect costs.

Suppose you are right that the best bits were the secondary routes ( Soton-Manchester, Leeds-Belfast etc) with a good proportion of business traffic willing to pay full whack for a day return or a next day return. Suppose you can get four decent revenue sectors five days a week out of a plane. That is unlikely to be enough on its own. You have to find something else to make a contribution between 10 and 4. My reading of FlyBe 1 is that, leaving aside the cost side issues, they struggled to identify the profitable core. Perhaps that suggests there wasn't one?

BACsuperVC10 6th Sep 2021 09:49

I have business in Exeter, and live in the NW, but not Manchester. I used to use Flybe from MAN to EXT, but switched to the train, as I found it in the end more convenient using my local station than trying to reach Manchester Airport and get through T3 security in the morning rush hour. I have to say whilst using this air route, I never found it particularly busy.

OzzyOzBorn 6th Sep 2021 17:06

I certainly wouldn't begin to advocate replication of the FlyBe 1.0 model. But the notion that every aspect of their business was some kind of basket case incapable of ever achieving profitability is for the birds. There are inter-regional city-pairs which offer opportunity once C-19 restrictions are behind us. But carriers such as Blue Islands, operating five ATR's on an existing network which is right-sized for their business, can only expand to meet the scale of new opportunity by taking on an existential risk in terms of recruiting more staff and significantly expanding their fleet. That would be most unwise in the current climate - I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Likewise Eastern: on Jethro's fleet-size looks like 26 aircraft, though many of these appear to be inactive low-capacity JS41's. Loganair's fleet is larger but is generally kept busy servicing the company's primary role in Scotland along with afew other routes in the portfolio where they make sense. Aurigny is understandably Channel Islands focused. None of these carriers can afford to carry fat ... they don't generally have staff idling about with nothing to do or aircraft sitting around with no established purpose. Yes, several aircraft are grounded by Covid in the medium-term, but even the leanest and best-run businesses couldn't envisage the business environment which has transpired there.

But when covid-think no longer dominates all decisions, route opportunities are there in the regional space. Existing carriers don't have sufficient fleet or staff on their books to take full advantage when the time comes, so there will be space for new entrant carrier(s) or incremental expansion by incumbents. For the latter, cautious expansion would likely be seen as the wisest course: a sudden doubling in fleet size, for example, would be a reckless and existential gamble. But between FlyBe and Stobart, around 90 mid-sized regional aircraft have exited the British Isles market. That is far too many. Emerald is expected to backfill some of these. We can't expect to see 90 aircraft added back in to the market, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to gradually add half of that number. Which is probably beyond the scope of the small number of storm-battered incumbents still standing in the space. So new names will likely be part of the sector's future. Will FlyBe 2.0 be one of these? Who knows ... but I wish them luck in their quest.

OzzyOzBorn 6th Sep 2021 17:26

BACsuperVC10: I completely respect your personal travel choices. Each to their own. But your posting record makes clear your deep dislike of all things Manchester Airport, and your passionate advocacy for Liverpool Airport. That is fine, but it does mean that you are unrepresentative of typical customers across the NW. For you, there is added value in avoiding use of MAN at all costs (and fair enough if that is your preference). But others will prioritise journey cost, duration, and the likelihood of disruption. In my experience, Cross-Country rail services are extraordinarily expensive, highly prone to delays and journey curtailments, and time-consuming even in ideal conditions. FlyBe MAN-EXT was always a great option for me, and the route supported upto four Q400's per day - so there must have been a reasonable level of demand there. If not, even half of that frequency (morning and evening) allows for a full business day at destination and implies greater concentration of loadings. Twice daily on weekdays would seem to be the best compromise solution to serve but not saturate the market as we gradually re-emerge from Covidworld. Having said all that, I don't recall the consistently lightly-loaded flights which you allude to when I used the original FlyBe services. Perhaps I used peak flights?

BACsuperVC10 6th Sep 2021 21:20

I use Liverpool Airport more than Manchester because its so much easier to transit through, I fly often ( pre covid ) so I really have given both airports a good try over the years, but that really has nothing to do with getting to Exeter . I have been travelling to Exeter for years now and used to always fly. I moved to rail because from a time point of view there was no advantage in flying and I found with split tickets I could save money. After I did the trip walking to my local station, it really worked out better

Sharklet_321 7th Sep 2021 12:55

OzzyOzBorn

An awful lot of self-indulgent waffle when the reality is much simpler. Do you honestly think Blue Islands, Eastern and Loganair don't want/aren't capable of doing double daily on these specific few routes? The current demand is not there to sustain it. If this is indeed the entire basis of the business plan for a Flybe 2.0 then it's doomed before its even begun. Short-haul business travel and domestic travel will not rebound to the same levels as before - 1) Investment is being made in businesses to accommodate more remote activities 2) environmentally this is not acceptable anymore. Not to mention the countless suppliers and public who were burned badly by the demise of Flybe 1.0 and will expect to be compensated by any re-emergence of the same organisation - these people won't give a toss as to whether legally it is the same company or not.

Less talk, more action please.

The Nutts Mutts 7th Sep 2021 13:51

Been reading with interest. My own perception is based on what I've seen at SOU- I believe some routes can sustain frequencies greater than those currently on offer.
Using Eastern as an example, their SOU-BHD route has been steadily building and now has strong loads at healthy fares and full or almost-full aircraft on the peak travelling days.
And yet, the date when it goes double-daily keeps getting pushed back by a month at a time.
Given that it's the same couple of crews flying most days, my impression is that it's a combination of lack of crews as Ozzy alluded to, with the current health and economic environment contributing but not solely responsible for the slow ramp-up of flights.
SOU-MAN has lower loads than SOU-BHD, but given the frequency and cost of flights I don't find this surprising, and even then they're probably averaging about 40-50% full, which seems to be a standard Eastern load. I've got no doubt that with cheaper fares and higher frequencies we'd be seeing much busier flights.
SOU-DUB loads are building steadily too.

cavokblues 7th Sep 2021 14:37

I guess it's a classic chicken and egg situation. Can a new Flybe stimulate demand on some of its previous more successful routes in a very unusual post Covid environment?

I think it is important to remember any new Flybe will be considerably smaller than the old company. They had no control over their fleet size during the last few years of their previous incarnation so may have operated several rotations just to keep the aircraft busy in the hope of making some money rather than being sat on the ground making nothing whatsoever.

I think its safe to say the likes of Exeter - Manchester and SOU - MAN will not be large enough to sustain two carriers. And at BHX they will be up against easyJet on a few of their other more successful routes flights and I suspect easyJet may stay on the likes of BHX - EDI/GLA for a while yet.

I'm genuinely fascinated to see what their strategy will be.

Sioltach Dubh Glas 7th Sep 2021 15:01

Based on the CAA's July data, and flight frequency from FR24 the average load factor on MAN-SOU was just over 27pc.

OzzyOzBorn 7th Sep 2021 15:23

Sharklet_321 - Why the condescending attitude? This is a discussion forum and we're here to discuss. Perhaps you should learn to comprehend the "waffle" which others have written before lashing out. I made a very clear distinction between current demand and post-covid demand. The difference between these two economic environments was clearly differentiated by me, alongside recognition of the transition period between the two. With reference to potential start-up carriers such as FlyBe 2.0, post-covid demand will be key. Since you instantly launch into claims about "current demand", I can only presume that you didn't read and absorb what I wrote. Take a look back: I don't wish to annoy more attentive readers with repetition.

On to your points. I have outlined what the incumbent regional carriers are capable of doing. Blue Islands have four ATR72's and one ATR42. FlyBe had 70+ aircraft; a fleet size some 14x larger, and BCI's fleet wasn't lying idle (pre-covid) just waiting for new route opportunities. Eastern have around 26 aircraft, though many of these are long-term grounded. Fifteen of these are JS41's with only around 29 seats each. Loganair has a larger fleet numerically, but many of it's aircraft are dedicated to Highlands and Islands flying. So NO - these carriers can only step up to any meaningful degree on a small selection of routes. They could invest in expansion, but I outlined why they need to be cautious about that whilst Covid still dominates thinking. Furthermore, demand for day return business travel is not yet known: the option has not been offered on the example routes which I cited so we cannot yet know how much take up there will be when the time comes. What we do know is that fares on the services which are offered are extremely high which is usually a sign of healthy yield. As I explained, demand does not need to rebound all the way back to 2019 levels to make sense: a twice daily service on a route which formerly operated six times daily with decent numbers is a perfectly reasonable proposition.

Your point about what is environmentally acceptable is purely subjective. Anti-carbon zealots will applaud you; climate rationalists will not. That is a debate for elsewhere. But your comment on this is an opinion, not a definitive fact.

I have every sympathy with those who suffer financial loss when any company fails. I myself had to expend considerable time and effort chasing up bank chargebacks when FlyBe failed - it wasn't fun, but employees suffered far more than I did. My priority is to see as many of those employees as possible taken back on by other businesses in the space. Your resentment suggests that you would be content to see many left on the scrapheap. I respectfully disagree with you.

Skipness One Foxtrot 7th Sep 2021 15:49

I think one of the emotions at work here is that no one loved flybe. Many people have fond memories of Dan Air, BCAL, British Midland et al. Even today people are invested in BA or Virgin, Loganair has a long and proud history but flybe just don't have any cache of that nature. Also, a lot of people remember flybe going hell for leather after Loganair after the end of the franchise in Scottish markets where both parties knew there was only room for one. There's no love lost professionally either.

Mr A Tis 7th Sep 2021 16:03

Domestic travel has never been busier- with so many people staying in the UK, there probably has never been a better time to stimulate domestic air travel where trains aren't suitable.
As has been pointed out, SOU-BHD with Eastern has been building up as it actually operates everyday.
Every month, I keep booking Eastern MAN-SOU-MAN with their twice daily advertised offering, but at the end of every month they revise the next month to a 5 a week service. This means paying higher fares for non advance rail tickets, on trains that take forever to get anywhere (Cross Country).
The Man/SOU always seems to be cancelled Tue & Wed, the same days that SOU-LBA gets cancelled. Maybe this is more a crewing issue ? T3 don't seem to want to fly on Tuesdays & Wednesdays.
If I knew a month in advance what day the service operates, I might book it, but I'm always promised non existent services.
On that model, Eastern will never build up demand. Based on my experiences, I'm not even attempting further bookings with Eastern now.
So, I would welcome a Flybe 2.0 that at least make an effort to plug gaps & stimulate demand. Not at previous levels obviously, but I cant believe the 6 x Dash8s a day on MAN\SOU demand have completely evaporated to zero.

Many have poo poo'd Loganair & easy on the MAN-NQY route, but easy are keeping the route in 2022. BMI Baby ran the service many moons ago & were always full.
If you factor in baggage fees, Loganair are often cheaper than easy.
Domestic air travel isn't dead, far from it, until the train companies get their act together on travel times and fares. Manchester to Bournemouth is substantially cheaper on Cross Country if you buy 7 split tickets each way- which is a farce- isn't it?

BA318 7th Sep 2021 16:14

I don’t understand the argument that Loganair, Blue Islands etc can’t expand but Flybe can? It’s no harder for those existing carriers to get hold of additional aircraft than it is for Flybe with a total of 0 aircraft. If Loganair sees sufficient demand and wants to expand to meet that it can. There are a lot of aircraft with lessors in need of homes.

OzzyOzBorn 7th Sep 2021 17:42

I didn't say they couldn't. I just outlined the considerations they must take into account if they choose to do so on a scale which would make a FlyBe replacement unnecessary as we enter the post-covid environment.

FlyBe 2.0 would be starting from nothing. No idea what scale they envisage. Cautious at first if they've any sense. But anything they provide is new capacity to the market.

adfly 7th Sep 2021 18:07

Mr A Tis

Some very interesting points here, which I'm inclined to agree with. On a related note, and I guess it is due to them being the strongest brand but Loganair seem to have built up their routes gradually in terms of frequency and passenger numbers from Southampton and Exeter. I guess they must have balanced the chicken/egg situation well.

As of now at the former they seem to have morning/evening flights on the Newcastle route, and 3-4 per day on weekdays to Glasgow and Edinburgh which is not far off what Flybe used to operate, albeit on smaller aircraft.

I do wonder if Eastern have a crewing issue at the moment. As it stands the 6 weekly Belfast and 4 weekly each of Dublin and Manchester seem to just about occupy a single based aircraft. I guess with any substantial increases they will have to bring in the second ATR to fit all of the flights in.

134brat 7th Sep 2021 19:03

Mr Oz Born
 
I have followed your recent cheerleading for Flybe 2.0 and would like to make a couple of points outwith the discussion about demand for their services in the post Covid market.
1. When BA Connect was 'handed over' to Flybe 1.0 it was a golden opportunity for the management to consolidate the business which, at that time, was certainly viable. Unfortunately the sudden growth went straight to the heads of those in charge and their greed and ambition far outstripped the potential for the company to consolidate and thrive.
2. It is nice of you to say that you have "every sympathy" with those who lost jobs or income directly or indirectly but that is so easy to say when it didn't happen to you.
3. You say that Flybe 2.0 is "starting from nothing". Well yes, that is true but one of the reasons they can do that is because they betrayed their legacy BRAL pensioners and many other creditors. All completely legal but morally contemptible.
4. Take another look at post #617. Skipness One Foxtrot is absolutely correct in his assertion that Flybe 1.0 is not a company which will be much lamented. Despite the many good people who worked for them, the business was thoroughly rotten from middle management up.

We all understand that airlines have to work as a business but when they fall into the hands of sharp suited hucksters whose only aim is a short term return in their investment, it is always going to end badly for those of us who work at the sharp end and enjoy flying our customers around safely.

I would love to be wrong about all this but l have seen it first hand....

SWBKCB 7th Sep 2021 19:12

Where as those plucky upstarts Loganair and Eastern have spotless histories.

134brat 7th Sep 2021 19:23

SWBKCB
 
No, l am not seeking to defend the 'jiggery pokery' that goes on in all businesses.

I have been employed by Loganair and have worked in close cooperation with Eastern. I suppose what l was trying to say in my previous post is that, in all my experience of Regional UK airlines (particularly in Scotland) l have never seen anything quite so dysfunctional as Flybe.

The worst thing about it is that it was all so unnecessary. One or two people with the right priorities and the right approach could have built a solid business.

I am in a new job now and very happy with it but l can't help but look back and think that it could have been done so much better.

OzzyOzBorn 7th Sep 2021 19:42

134brat -

Please feel free to quote ANY passage from my recent postings which 'cheerlead' any one of the brands discussed. I simply analyse all carriers in the space - plus those who plan to enter the market - and draw conclusions accordingly. My comments in support of FlyBe staff who have lost their jobs echo exactly those I have expressed for similarly affected former employees of Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Stobart Air and others similarly affected. I make no apology for empathising with their plight. If you don't, what does that say about you as a person?

The remainder of your posting does not apply to me, because I have not been "cheerleading" any specific brand. I wish them all a prosperous future, how ever challenging that may be in reality. The existing incumbents, plus Emerald and FlyBe 2.0 in whatever form they take. Feel free to read back and confirm that.

134brat 7th Sep 2021 20:41

Mr Oz Born
 
So l don't empathize with former Monarch, Thomas Cook or Stobart staff? And there was me thinking this was a Flybe thread.

I responded to your posts in the context of what has been going on with the Flybe debacle. What kind of person l am is of no consequence in this discussion.

I have personal friends who were caught up in the Monarch/Graybull ripoff and will only say that their experience was similar to what Cyrus has done with Flybe so, if anything, my points are reinforced. (Do some research).

Ultimately my comments were aimed at the greedy,reckless,unethical chancers who get into business with the sole purpose of getting rich quick. I am well aware that there is little to be gained by ranting against this sort of thing but l am just an old school aviation guy who is hating what is going on in the business today.

In order to avoid any further histrionics, this will be my final word on the matter.

Downwind_Left 7th Sep 2021 21:03


Originally Posted by Mr A Tis (Post 11107596)
Domestic travel has never been busier- with so many people staying in the UK, there probably has never been a better time to stimulate domestic air travel where trains aren't suitable.

I’m sorry but that’s not even remotely true. Never been busier? On the main UK domestic routes frequencies are generally 50 to 75% less than at the same point in 2019. And that’s with all of the major airlines having spare aircraft and crew sitting around. Some low-frequency niche routes have been added, but the core volume and frequency routes have been decimated.

All air travel in the UK is suffering from massively reduced demand, most staycationers this summer were not travelling by air, and the key business routes show a very bleak picture.

The low frequencies from airlines rear have replaced former Flybe service are because of lack of demand. Planned multiple-daily flights being changed to less than daily are a sure indicator of that.

For example for the latest per-COVID month I can directly compare with 2021;
In July 2019 between Edinburgh and London (LHR/LCY/LGW/STN/LTN) there were 292,582 passengers
In July 2021 between Edinburgh and London (LHR/LCY/LGW/STN/LTN) there were 94,232 passengers
Thats a 67.8% reduction in passenger numbers

Quickest way to lose money at the moment is flying empty aircraft around. Far more commercially savvy to consolidate flights, and save yourself all the fuel, maintenance, airport, handling and navgiation costs from operating an almost empty flight.

The notion that Flybe 2 will stimulate demand at the moment is fanciful. All that will happen if they go up against the likes of Eastern on routes such as MAN-SOU, is you divide the same number of passengers between 2 airlines, create a price vacuum, and make the route unviable for both airlines.

cavokblues 7th Sep 2021 22:26

No idea accurate the stats are but this site (https://www.anna.aero/2020/03/05/fly...top-30-routes/) suggests only 168 pax per day were flying SOU - MAN. Six 78 seat Dash flights a day shows how much capacity Flybe 1.0 were providing with not many takers. 35% load factor!?

It would be interesting to see if a seats available vs pax travelled analysis exists.

Albert Hall 7th Sep 2021 22:29

Ozzy, I've been reading the thread over the last couple of days and mulling whether or not to post this, but on the basis you only live once, I'll go for it.

It does read as though your postings are either some kind of thesis on the UK market or a consultant/advisor-type commentary on the UK regional market and the limitless opportunities that you see within it. Either way there are mistakes and gross navigational errors in what you say. I hope that the new powers-that-be at Flybe 2 aren't labouring under the same illusions.

I'll try to use some numbers to back up my statement. You have added the fleets of Stobart and Flybe together to claim a 90-aircraft "gap in the market" after the demise of both. The best sources I can find show that Flybe had 66 active hulls as of its failure and Stobart 14 - so to start the numbers game, it's 80 and not 90. From there:
  • Stobart had already sent 6 of its ATR72 aircraft to backfill Flybe Q400 routes at BHD so that's a double-count of "lost aircraft". Now 74 left.
  • Emerald is replacing Stobart at DUB, BHD and ORK and apparently targeting 14-16 aircraft. That's direct backfill for Stobart so if we call it in the middle at 15, we're down to 59 left.
  • Flying equivalent to 5 Flybe lines of flying were in collaboration with Air France on CDG routes. AF has backfilled itself as far as it apparently wishes and without a Flybe 2/AF similar collaboration (and hell will freeze over before AF even takes the idea to its unions, before you get into AF/KL internal politics where KL hated Flybe with a passion and tried to kill the BE/AF deal), those aren't going to exist ever again. 54 and counting.
  • Flybe had 4 aircraft in its never-to-be-seen Summer 2020 fleet plan flying BHD, NCL, EDI and GLA to SEN. These only existed to satisfy Stobart as a shareholder and try to pump volume through SEN to help a certain individual towards a big bonus. 1 aircraft was set for LHR-DUS which was Virgin-drivel. 5 aircraft in Flybe's fleet plan of 66 there not requiring backfill - so we're now at 49.
  • easyJet has launched EDI-BHX, AMS-BHX and GLA-BHX with an A320 on each. Matter of opinion, but it's impossible to see how a Q400 going head-to-head with that will be either viable or sensible. 2 Q400s on each of the 3 routes no longer viable. Descending through FL43.
  • Blue Islands used to serve JER-LCY and pulled the aircraft off that to backfill Flybe routes on JER-EXT and JER-BHX. 42 and counting.
  • Eastern used to fly its ATR72s on the Scatsa oil contract and now flies them ex SOU on Flybe routes to MAN, BHD, DUB, RNS, NTE (if the latter get going) which is 2 aircraft covering 3 Flybe lines of flying. 39 steps to go.
  • Loganair pulled dedicated aircraft off NCL-BRU, MAN-NWI, EDI-NWI, GLA-SEN and ABZ-SEN to backfill Flybe presence on core peak-time flying NCL-SOU, ABZ-MAN, EDI-SOU, GLA-SOU, ABZ-BHX and off-peak infill to the likes of EXT, NQY, BHD. 5 aircraft there, so 34 left.
  • Loganair also looks to be taking on 2 aircraft for IOM to backfill IOM-LPL and IOM-MAN. 32 left.
  • Blue Islands is supposed to be getting 2 more aircraft for SOU-MAN and EXT-MAN. 29 left.
  • BA CityFlyer pulled aircraft from somewhere to replace Flybe on BHD-LCY. 28 left.
  • BA CityFlyer also put a large level of weekend capacity into SOU (subject to Covid) - roughly 1 aircraft. 27 to go.
  • Aurigny started GCI-BHX, GCI-EXT and GCI-SOU - roughly 1 aircraft. 26 and still falling.
  • easyJet and BA CityFlyer have both plonked capacity on Belfast-EMA, Belfast-Leeds etc. Assuming CityFlyer is temporary until Emerald are there, the easyJet A320 presence on BFS-EMA, BFS-LBA will undermine viability of a dedicated Q400 from BHD to either. 2 more aircraft gone. 24.
  • KLM have gone on SOU-AMS replacing the Flybe Q400 service. Descending through 23
  • Flybe LHR and LCY services with the exception of BHD (that we've already discounted as BA CityFlyer have taken it) were all reportedly a complete economic disaster area and no-one has taken over their positions on EDI-LHR, ABZ-LHR, EXT-LCY, LCY-AMS etc. 4 more aircraft there for which backfill would be economic lunacy. 19 left.
2 more aircraft were doubled-up to serve BHD-BHX and BHD-MAN from both ends of the route - question whether they were needed or whether the backfill above is sufficient. EDI-MAN appears all but dead - that was 1 aircraft. EDI-CWL and BHD-CWL don't look to support a dedicated aircraft any more which Flybe had. 2 more out. We're now at 16. Strip out the surplus standby aircraft and unproductive hulls that other airlines like easyJet, Loganair, BA CityFlyer already have but were duplicated in Flybe's fleet and that's probably another 2-3 gone. 14 to be kind.

Of those remaining 14 lines of flying, you have a number of year-round routes that still need backfill before you decide on a suicide mission against KLM and easyJet to be the third airline on MAN-AMS or restore chronically unprofitable routes into DUS from the likes of MAN and BHX against Eurowings (4 more Flybe aircraft). LON-NQY, EMA-AMS, EXT-AMS, EXT-CDG, SOU-CDG, BHX-STR/MXP/HAJ/LYS are all unserved today and there is a case as the market recovers for them to return. That's a hell of a mixed bag which would be difficult to knit into a viable business with maybe only 10 aircraft at best.

But the fallacy you've put forward that there are 90 aircraft lost from the UK regional market that need replacing is just that - a fallacy. There are one or two subjective calls in the numbers above but definately not enough to make a viable and practical business. So I reach the conclusion that your notion of a huge gap remaining is either through being misguided or deliberate flame-bait, and that's long before anyone has mentioned the effects of Covid on reduced business travel demand. Unless Flybe 2 is prepared to pony up for a pitch battle with any or all of the airlines listed above who have backfilled Flybe capacity then the gap is incredibly small and so widely distributed as to make a viable business impossible.

They might well end up giving it a go, but the destruction of shareholder value on all sides in the ensuing fight will be fruitless.

Right - I've said my bit. Over and out.

inOban 7th Sep 2021 23:13

For comparison, before covid there were up to 6 very early flights from EDI to LCY carrying business people who needed to get to the City before 9 (3 BACF, 3 Flybe AIRC.)

Finally this week BACF have relaunched a single flight to suit that market. Just one.

That I think illustrates the collapse of the day return business market.

SWBKCB 8th Sep 2021 08:09

The impact of interlining will be interesting as well in the way the regional market develops. Certainly LM have a portfolio of agreements, don't know about the others but presumably Flybe.2 will be playing catch-up and won't have immediate access to these markets as they recover

ATNotts 8th Sep 2021 08:22

Albert Hall,

The notion of there suddenly being viable work for 80-odd airframes is clearly nonsense. Covid-19 has seen to that, and many of the former FlyBe routes probably, as you have eloquently discussed, weren't viable except in the sense of keeping aircraft on expensive leases they couldn't get out of doing something.

If FlyBe 2.0 started up with more than 10 airframes I'd be amazed. I would reckon a figure of closer to 5 might prove to be the reality, and a very limited network centred around a single base - Birmingham European / Brymon Eurpoean / BEA / Maersk UK / Duo anyone? - that didn't end particularly prettily.

Sharklet_321 8th Sep 2021 08:49

Albert Hall
 
Loved your no nonsense post - you literally hit every nail on the head

Jamie2009 8th Sep 2021 09:19

Calm down, Calm down
 
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you think the relaunch will be a massive success or one of the deluded :* who thinks it will be a failure. Nobody knows for sure.

The bottom line is a global money company with a history of launching new airlines thinks it’s a runner and is investing millions….. they probably know their onions and have access to far more data than any of us.

Cyrus also upped their stake in Esken a couple of days ago.

willy wombat 8th Sep 2021 13:13

All very well to say that but it misses the point that someone “investing millions” into a new or reincarnated UK regional airline is likely to create a competitive bloodbath which could result in serious losses for the incumbent carriers and consequent job losses with no guarantee that the “new” carrier will succeed. I can’t but feel that the impetus to relaunch Flybe is in part coming from consultants collecting large fees to tell the investors what they want to hear.
I did like Albert Hall’s post. I was. going to post asking whether Ozzy is a consultant because his/her posts sound exact like the sort of drivel I used to hear from consultants.

Skipness One Foxtrot 8th Sep 2021 14:39

And how many money men ploughed money into Norwegian Air Shuttle, then some more money, then even more money and then some more money for luck? Virtually all shareholder value was decimated, the consultants took their fat fees and the founders and "master strategists" moved onto Norse Atlantic where they will get even richer doing the same thing all over again to some of the same people.

Great post Albert Hall

willy wombat 8th Sep 2021 14:47

A “friend” who was a consultant always said that the trick was to get in, come up with a plan, collect fee and then depart before the plan was enacted so that if/when it failed you were long gone.

Skipness One Foxtrot 8th Sep 2021 14:56

This is true, the painful truth is that so many so called leaders don't actually have the skill set to run a business successfully. My current org is moving to Agile as the Borard told the CEO to make changes and (s)/he was seduced by consultants on how agile was the answer. On roll out to the actual business the feedback was "WTAF?" and no one involved in the day to day could see it working. Ironically the push for this to happen was that the Exec were too slow in making decisions and thse at coalface needed empowering. End result was spaffing away a fortune on consultancy fees for an org that will be bastardised beyond the model to force it to just about work.
It's kinda rare nowadays for "leaders" not to rely on consultancts as they can shift blame if and when it goes wrong. The MBA can be a very useful tool BUT good business judgement doesn't always come with the qualification.

OzzyOzBorn 8th Sep 2021 16:06

My compliments to you, Albert Hall. Your post epitomises what a discussion forum should be about: a challenging debate encouraging exchange of ideas and expansion of knowledge, rather than the bitching and back-biting which we so often see. I'll gloss over your use of provocative words such as "fallacy" and "illusion" - though I do disagree with you on those points!

Now my response. Your posting argues the premise that I have advocated for a 100% backfill of 90 regional aircraft lost to the market (or 88: the most recent figures I'd seen were 70 for FlyBe and 18 for Stobart). Though if the true final number was 80, the same principle applies. What I actually wrote was this:

QUOTE: We can't expect to see 90 aircraft added back in to the market, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to gradually add half of that number. Which is probably beyond the scope of the small number of storm-battered incumbents still standing in the space. So new names will likely be part of the sector's future.

Note those two key words HALF and GRADUALLY. And I never suggested that NO new aircraft have entered the space already since the demise of legacy FlyBe. All of my contributions to this discussion have urged CAUTION across the board. I have acknowledged that we are currently still in the thick of "Covidworld", with interline decimated, business travel hit by fears of employer liability if an employee falls sick in the course of a business trip, and restrictions (or fear of reimposed restrictions) hitting leisure demand to destinations in Eire, NI, IOM and the Channel Islands. Even Scotland: I myself lost four EasyJet bookings when Sturgeon randomly banned travellers from NW England postcodes for a period of time in mid-2021. No, the opportunity to re-establish core regional business routes lies beyond this period of C-19 uncertainty; my posts are clear and consistent on that. But that is the timescale we are discussing with respect to FlyBe 2.0 - the subject of this thread. They won't be flying tomorrow morning. Using the example of SOU-MAN again, I called for the resumption of TWO daily services (NOT the original six) to allow a foothold for day return business travel to rebuild. Incremental frequencies beyond that should be demand-led. But until that day return option is offered, none of us can stamp our feet and insist that demand for it is gone forever never to return.

On your point about Emerald's potential fleet-size, that was accounted for by me as part of the recovery. We have a good idea of what they intend to do, and my suggestion that we could gradually see upto half of the originally lost aircraft restored to the market does include them. I specifically mentioned this in my postings. As for the point about services to AMS and CDG, regional carriers seemed to love piling in on those. They may choose to do so again, but it wasn't something I ever advocated for back then and I don't plan to do so going forward. On the topic of EasyJet, they have been proactive in allocating capacity to routes which the public are allowed to fly during S2021; a commendable strategy from their perpective, but whether or not they will stick with those markets as more familiar leisure routes open up to them again remains to be seen. Others including Jet2 (JER), Loganair (NQY, JER etc.) and Eastern also moved capacity to 'permitted' leisure destinations within the British Isles.

But, how ever much we may debate 'before and after' distribution of fleets, the bottom line remains this: routes such as our example SOU-MAN is being offered less than once daily, down from six daily. My contention is that routes such as this one and others like it do represent an opportunity for regional carriers as society recovers from C-19 restrictions. That means both the incumbent carriers still standing, and any new entrants - though I agree that one carrier per route would be desirable from a sustainability perspective. Though those carriers which under-serve a route will be game to face a challenge. Traffic may not rebound back to former levels, but I contend that things will recover to a far greater degree than we see now (as we head into another Winter of uncertainty and rumours of a "firebreak lockdown"). I accept that some here can only envisage a 'doom and gloom forever scenario' - is that a manifestation of recency bias? - but I find myself more optimistic than that. Not gung-ho ... caution is essential ... but in my view a viable regional market awaits the surviving companies post-Covid. Will FlyBe 2.0 be a participant in that space? I don't know ... never purported to ... and I certainly don't expect them to come close to legacy FlyBe in fleet-size or scope if they do (I never suggested that). But there is a prospective niche for them as long as formerly successful higher frequency routes remain served less than once daily.

cavokblues 8th Sep 2021 16:22


the bottom line remains this: routes such as our example SOU-MAN is being offered less than once daily, down from six daily. My contention is that routes such as this one and others like it do represent an opportunity for regional carriers as society recovers from C-19 restrictions.
I think the danger is assuming because Flybe flew the route 6 times a day there was demand for 6 flights a day. As I posted last night the estimated passengers each way on that route is about 164, just over two full dash 8's. (https://www.anna.aero/2020/03/05/fly...top-30-routes/)

SWBKCB 8th Sep 2021 16:33

CAA stats for 2018 are 220k and 2019 200k, so gives about 500 a day


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