Flybe takes control of Southampton

Image: Flybe
Flybe’s dominance has significantly contributed to the 143% increase in traffic since 2003 – it commands 90% of scheduled capacity.

With a single main runway of just 1,723 metres Southampton airport on the UK’s south coast will never attract large aircraft or offer any long-haul destinations. However, it offers just the right characteristics for Flybe with its mix of regional jets and Q400 turboprops. Since the airline started operations at the BAA-owned airport in March 2003 traffic has leapt forward from just 788,000 in 2002 to 1.92 million in 2006, an increase of 143% in just four years.

Southampton now ranks as the UK’s 20th busiest airport and in the first six months of 2007 traffic was up 3.2%

Flybe’s mix of jets and turboprops

This summer Flybe has 10 aircraft based at the airport comprising three E195s (118 seats), four Q400s (78 seats), three ERJ145s (49 seats). The airline serves a total of 35 destinations which can be segmented into various categories:

Domestic/Irish Belfast City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Galway, Glasgow, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle
French leisure Angers, Avignon, Bergerac, Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Limoges, Nice, Perpignan, Rennes
Summer sun Alicante, Faro, Malaga, Murcia, Palma
Business/City break Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hannover, Paris CDG
Winter ski Berne, Chambery, Geneva, Salzburg

A daily domestic service to Liverpool which started in May 2005 recently ended, but frequency to nearby Manchester has risen to seven flights per day. In 2007 Flybe has added new routes to Frankfurt, Isle Of Man, Nice and Paris CDG. As a result of starting Amsterdam services in September 2006, incumbent carrier Scot Airways pulled off the route.

Flybe’s dominant position

According to data from OAG Max Online for the week commencing 10 September Flybe operates around 80% of all scheduled flights and is responsible for around 90% of scheduled capacity. Eastern Airways is the second busiest airline and connects Southampton with Aberdeen, Brussels, Leeds/Bradford and Newcastle. When Flybe starts double-daily services to Brussels this October Eastern will face direct competition from Flybe on three of its four routes. Other airlines operating at the airport include Aurigny (to Alderney), Air France (to Paris CDG), Aer Arann (to Cork), Blue Islands (to Guernsey) and Isles Of Scilly Skybus.

Scottish routes very popular, late bookers pay the price

Chart: Southampton Airport: Top 15 Routes
Source: UK CAA
Image: Screenshot of downloadable content
Analysis of fares for outbound travel. Click here for details

Given the limitations imposed by the runway length it is not surprising that UK domestic routes are the most popular, especially Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam are the most in demand international routes followed by Alicante, Bergerac and Malaga. The summer sun destinations are served by Flybe using their newly-acquired Embraer 195s which have 118 seats.

Image: Child wearing flybe sponsered football kit
Flybe is targeting very young football supporters with the launch of branded baby clothing available from the team’s website.

An exclusive analysis of fares for outbound travel for the week commencing 10 September reveals that average fares (including taxes and charges) for one-way travel booked less than a week in advance average over £100 ($200). Belfast City, Düsseldorf and Paris CDG have the highest average fares at over £130 ($260). Passengers wishing to book last minute flights on much longer flights to Alicante and Malaga will be charged little more for travel than those wishing (or needing) to travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow. In terms of bargain fares Galway, Brest and Rennes offered the lowest fares across the week.

The highest single fare found was the £264 ($530) charged for travel to Paris on a Friday. To help promote itself in the region Flybe is the title sponsor of Southampton Football Club, a team which was until recently in the Premiership league.

Map: Routes from southampton
Flybe’s network from Southampton covers many EU countries but neither Italy nor any Scandinavian country are among them.


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