flybe entered (20-Jul-2010) a "substantial" agreement with Embraer to purchase up to 140 88-seat E175 and E-family aircraft, with the first delivery scheduled for Sep-2011 through Mar-2017 (for firm orders). The order comprises 35 firm E175 aircraft, 65 options and 40 purchase options, with the carrier stating the order "provides a platform for Flybe’s expansion into Continental Europe". The carrier continued: "The company is committed to measured and consistent growth over the next decade through the exportation of its business model into continental Western Europe. The acquisition of this capacity will underpin this move." The carrier added that it will maintain its core principal of a two fleet strategy, with E195/175 equipment and Bombardier Q400 aircraft, which it will also continue to operate. [more]
Farnborough: flybe announces order for up to 140 Embraer E175s
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Flybe: largest regional airline in Europe leads the airline capacity growth charge in winter 2016/17
The surprise departure of Flybe CEO Saad Hammad on 26-Oct-2016 "by mutual agreement" raises questions about the future strategic direction of Europe's largest regional airline. Mr Hammad joined in Aug-2013 and implemented a restructuring programme, returning Flybe to profit in FY2016 (March year end).
Capacity reduction during the restructuring has been followed by a period of accelerating growth. So much so that Flybe is Europe's fastest-growing airline group among the top 20 in Europe by seat numbers this winter, with an increase of 19%. CAPA has identified 45 new Flybe routes in calendar 2016 (compared with a late summer total of 165), on the majority of which Flybe has no airline competitor.
Despite low competition on its network, Flybe's FY2016 operating margin was one of the lowest among listed European airlines and coincided with weakening unit revenue. Pricing has softened further, not least due to uncertainties such as Brexit, just as Flybe's capacity growth has accelerated.
Until a replacement for Mr Hammad is found, Flybe's Chairman Simon Laffin will assume executive responsibility. Significant strategic change may be unlikely in the interim, but a key question for the next CEO will be whether to continue with such aggressive capacity growth in the face of falling fares.
European airline seat capacity growth accelerates - perhaps too quickly: Outlook for winter 2016/17
The summer 2016 season came to an end on 29-Oct-2016. Adjusting for an extra week relative to the previous summer, it produced seat growth of 6% for capacity to/from/within Europe, matching the rate of growth in summer 2015, but higher than the 10-year average rate of 4% and higher than any other summer since 2010.
Current indications from data filed with OAG are that Europe will also experience accelerating capacity growth in the winter 2016/2017 season, which runs from 30-Oct-2016 to 25-Mar-2017. Adjusting for the season being shorter by one week relative to last winter, total seat growth in Europe is set to reach 7%, compared with 6% growth in winter 2015/2016 (and 6% growth in summer 2016). This is higher than the 10-year average rate for winter of 3% and the highest winter growth since 2007/2008.
On routes to all but one region from Europe, seat growth this winter will both be faster than last winter and higher than its 10-year average. The one exception is Europe to Middle East, the fastest-growing region, where capacity growth will remain at 10%. This report presents analysis of this winter's seat growth for Europe by region and by airline group.