Flybe is set to return to the skies, announcing that Birmingham Airport will act as its new company headquarters and crew base.
Flybe entered administration in March 2020, with routes formerly operated by the airline taken over by carriers such as Eastern Airways and Loganair. The regional airline was then acquired by Thmye Opco, now known as Flybe Limited, in April 2021.
From early 2022, the airline will serve locations across the UK and EU from its new West Midlands hub. Ticket prices, new routes and destinations are to be announced in the coming weeks and months.
Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger said:
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Birmingham Airport (BHX), the City of Birmingham, and the Mayor of West Midlands to make BHX the location of our new headquarters and first crew base.
“It was an ideal choice for us due to its great people and highly skilled workforce, its central UK location, and the fact that Birmingham Airport is a global travel hub where local and connecting customers have access to over 150 worldwide destinations. Today’s announcement marks the culmination of over 12 months of dedicated hard work by all involved, and it would not have been possible without the support of the CAA and the UK Government.”
Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands, added:
“It really is such brilliant news that Flybe is coming back as a commercial airline, and even better that it has chosen Birmingham to house its new headquarters.
“Not only does this mean better domestic and international connectivity for our region as well as local jobs and opportunities being created here, but it’s yet another show of faith in the West Midlands with businesses choosing to commit to our region as we recover from the pandemic.
“Flybe’s choice highlights the strength of the aerospace sector in the West Midlands and the talent pool available, and I wish Dave and his team all the very best ahead of their official launch early next year.”
Nick Barton, Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport, also commented:
“Flybe’s announcement that Birmingham has been chosen to become the headquarters for its launch next spring is fantastic news for our region’s connectivity needs, and it will bring with it some great new employment opportunities. Dave’s vast experience in managing start-up airlines and turnaround situations, coupled with the recovery of the Midlands’ economy post-Covid, means that Flybe’s return to the skies from Birmingham is a shot in the arm for our airport as well as West Midlands businesses and communities.”
Pflieger also used the opportunity to highlight the airline’s commitment to sustainability:
“I also want to emphasise that a key area of focus from day one for Flybe will be environmental sustainability and ensuring we do everything possible to reduce our carbon footprint and GHGs. Our entire fleet will be comprised of the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400, which is a fast turboprop powered aircraft that can complete short journeys almost as quickly as a regional jet, but with lower CO2 emissions. In addition, we will also be partnering with local community charities and partners who are focused on the environment as well as other causes which align with our corporate goals and values.”
Analysis from our consumer editor Alex McWhirter:
“Despite all the bold words from the new management one wonders whether or not if any lucrative routes remain.
Those Dash-8s are eco friendly but Flybe did have reliability issues. In any case customers prefer jets especially on longer sectors where flight times are excessive. Flybe’s former Aberdeen-London route had a flight time of two hours.
Lastly consider ‘flight shame’. Two years ago the then Flybe boss Mark Anderson said the airline was considering terminating domestic routes which could easily be covered by train or car.
Its new HQ and Operations Centre will be located at Birmingham airport’s Diamond House. The move is expected to create approximately 200 direct new jobs in the Birmingham and West Midlands region over the next three years, with an estimated additional 400 direct jobs to be created nationwide during that same time frame.
At this stage the Flybe website shows a holding page stating: “we’re working hard building a brand new Flybe for you”.