Flybe seeks slots for Gatwick expansion

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UK regional carrier Flybe is looking to acquire more slots at London Gatwick and is evaluating a number of new business destinations from Cardiff Airport.

Flybe serves Aberdeen, Belfast City, Bergerac in France, Guernsey, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Newcastle from Gatwick.

Speaking to ATI during a recent media briefing in Cardiff, Flybe chief operating officer Mike Rutter said: “We’ve made some fairly substantial investment in London Gatwick.

“We’ve purchased eight pairs of slots since the turn of the year to launch services to Newcastle and Aberdeen and we’re actively looking to acquire new slots.”

Rutter says Flybe has moved from being in 15th place at London Gatwick to become the third-largest carrier in terms of movements, and the fifth-largest in terms of passenger numbers.

Flybe has 28 daily slots at the airport and is looking to secure as many as possible.

“We are looking to add UK domestic destinations and are also interested in the possibility of re-introducing services from London Gatwick to underserved European business destinations,” says Rutter.

Flybe has 28 new routes on sale this year, with new bases at Cardiff, Newcastle and Aberdeen. Rutter says it the airline is evaluating some new European business destinations from Cardiff, adding to its current destinations: Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Newcastle and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

He says: “The three that we are looking at are Brussels, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, as well as a range of other French regional destinations.

In the past Flybe has shown an interest in duplicating its business model in other European countries, with candidate markets including Scandinavia, France or Spain.

But Rutter says: “We believe that we still have the opportunity to develop in the UK, concentrating on Aberdeen, Inverness, Newcastle, Leeds, Cardiff and Newquay. Once we have fully explored that expansion we will export our business model to other countries. It will be within the next two years.”