As we reported last week the ‘new’ Flybe will have bases at Birmingham and Belfast City in place of Exeter (Flybe’s former base).

Somewhat surprisingly Flybe is restarting life with 23 new routes, more than analysts had thought.

All are short-haul whether within the UK itself or to mainland Europe. All flights will be operated by Dash 8-400 prop aircraft as before. At London Heathrow Flybe will be using Terminal 2.

Here’s a brief summary of the routes:

  • From Belfast City many routes commence on April 13 with the full network building over the following weeks and months. All routes are regional with the exception of London Heathrow and Amsterdam.
  • There are seven routes from Birmingham commencing in stages from April 28. Currently these are to: Amsterdam, Belfast, Brest, Avignon, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
  • From London Heathrow there will be routes to Amsterdam (May 29), Belfast (April 28) and the former British Airways route to Leeds (April 28).
  • Other routes are East Midlands to Amsterdam (April 28) along with Southampton to Avignon and Toulon (both starting in July).

Overall I have mixed opinions. Certainly the French routes will be useful but many if not most of the others are already served by rivals.

For example look at the situation with Belfast City where Emerald Airlines now covers many routes to the UK mainland.

Emerald Airlines plans major UK network this summer

Those airports really needing support like Cardiff, Doncaster and Exeter are omitted.

Analysts say that the three Heathrow routes are really intended to protect Flybe’s valuable slots. How does Flybe expect to compete with rivals using modern jet aircraft on routes to Belfast and Amsterdam? (Flybe does not interline with KLM)

Furthermore what are Flybe’s ‘green’ credentials in this environmentally conscious age?Former boss of the old Flybe acknowledged ‘green shame’ and told the media in October 2019  “We need to be responsible” with regards to routes with good surface links.

One could argue that Leeds-London is mainly intended for feed (rather than point-to-point) traffic because LNER offers fast and frequent trains between this West Yorkshire city and Kings Cross.

But what about those linking Birmingham to Edinburgh and Glasgow?

Not only have rail services improved (and are set to further improve) but Easyjet already plies both routes with its Airbus aircraft.

We shall see how the network progresses in the months ahead.

Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger said:

“We think our flights will benefit everyone who wants low fares and more flights to go on holiday and visit loved ones.”

Nick Barton, CEO of Birmingham airport, added:

“We welcome Flybe’s seven routes [see above for details].  Connections to Avignon and Brest have been restored.”