Flybe open to expansion elsewhere in London: CCO

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Flybe will not rule out future expansion from any of London’s airports despite signing a five year traffic commitment with London City, the airline’s chief commercial officer Paul Simmons says.

“This doesn’t preclude us from growing at other London airports, we will continue to make decisions with the passengers best interests in mind,” Simmons tells Flighglobal.

While the UK airline will make London City its principal base from October when it opens five new domestic and international routes, there are no plans to move its Newquay flights from London Gatwick or its Dundee service from Stansted operated by franchise partner Loganair, says Simmons.

Rather the UK airline remains keen to explore opportunities elsewhere and Simmons says Flybe remains “interested” in ideas to convert RAF Northolt into a mixed use military and commercial facility which could provide extra capacity for the capital.

“We have said on the record there we are interested in the project, it is a runway that does appear to be underutilised and seems strange that a fraction of its air traffic is civil aviation. We are interested in talking to the government about this but of course it wouldn’t be on the scale of London City.”

Simmons says he expects Flybe to perform well on its planned London City routes to Edinburgh, Dublin, Exeter, Belfast and Inverness from 27 October as its competitors CityJet and BA are “sole traders” on those routes.

Further expansion at London City including new international routes and an extension of its Flybe Nordic venture with Finnair to the central London gateway are all on the table and will be assessed using Flybe’s strict route development criteria, Simmons says.