FlyGlobespan consolidates network after challenging 2007

Logo: FlyGlobespanNext month FlyGlobespan, Scotland’s only home-grown low-cost airline, will celebrate its fifth anniversary. In 2007, the airline carried more than two million passengers at an average load factor of over 80%, but things did not go entirely smoothly for the airline. The terrorist attack at Glasgow airport in June, combined with some technical problems on wet-leased 757s from Icelandair, means that the airline and its parent company the Globespan Group are expected to suffer their first losses.

Image: FlyGlobespan plane
FlyGlobespan’s new routes from Edinburgh for this winter season and the coming summer season include Dubrovnik, Grenoble (winter-only), Las Palmas, Madeira, Paphos and Sharm El-Sheikh.

With a fleet of 17 aircraft (13 737s including two -300s, four -600s, two -700s and five -800s, one 757-200 and three 767s) the airline has seen its passenger numbers grow rapidly in the last two years.

Chart: FlyGlobespan scheduled traffic
Source: UK CAA Airline data

Demand in the summer months is more than two and a half times the demand in the winter months, reflecting the airline’s focus on leisure destinations aimed at Scottish outbound travellers. According to CAA survey statistics for 2005, around 90% of passengers travelling from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports to Spanish destinations are UK residents. The latest available figures from the CAA show that for the first time in the airline’s history scheduled passenger numbers were down on the previous year in November.

Focus on Edinburgh and Glasgow

Image: FlyGlobespan pilots
FlyGlobespan crew celebrate the first Aberdeen to Malaga flight last November. Aberdeen was made a base last summer and this year the airline will fly to seven destinations from the airport. However, planned flights this winter to a variety of destinations from Aberdeen were cancelled in a dispute with airport operator BAA over airport charges.

According to the airline’s website it will operate 55 routes this summer, of which 17 are from Edinburgh (including daily flights to Barcelona, Faro, Malaga and Palma), 14 are from Glasgow (including daily flights to Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Malaga, Orlando Sanford, Palma and Tenerife), seven are from Aberdeen and six are from Durham Tees Valley (a.k.a. Teesside). These last two bases were both opened last summer, though Tenerife services had operated from both airports since November 2006. In mid-February the airline celebrated its 150,000th passenger from Durham Tees Valley from where it offers more scheduled destinations than any other airline. The remaining 11 routes are all low-frequency long-haul services to Canada (Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto Hamilton) and Orlando (Sanford) from Belfast International, Bristol, Dublin, London Gatwick and Manchester.

Image: Glasgow’s new £30 million ’skyhub’ terminal extension
14 of FlyGlobespan’s 55 routes this summer will be operated from Glasgow. The airport’s new £30 million ‘skyhub’ terminal extension is scheduled to open in autumn 2008.

Last summer FlyGlobespan operated over 60 routes and appears to have dropped a number of them for this summer including:

Image: Durham Tees Valley Airport
Flyglobespan celebrated its 150,000th passenger from Durham Tees Valley on 14 February. Mr and Mrs Norton were surprised at check-in for their flight to Alicante with a bottle of champagne.
  • From Durham Tees Valley: Ibiza, Mahon, Nice and Pula.
  • From Edinburgh: Murcia.
  • From Glasgow: Athens, Boston and Prague.
  • From London Stansted: Larnaca, Tenerife and Toronto Hamilton.
  • Plus: Aberdeen – Murcia, Liverpool to New York, and long-haul flights to Toronto Hamilton from Birmingham, Doncaster/Sheffield, Exeter and Newcastle. Also flights from Knock to Boston and New York JFK have been axed.

However, new routes added for this winter season and the coming summer season include:

  • From Aberdeen: Malaga.
  • From Edinburgh: Dubrovnik, Grenoble (winter-only), Las Palmas, Madeira, Paphos and Sharm El-Sheikh.
  • Plus: Canadian services from Bristol (Toronto Hamilton) and Dublin (Toronto Hamilton and Vancouver).

The indications are that, having terminated its contract with Icelandair for the additional 757s, the number of planned flights for this summer is lower than last summer, partly as a result of the growing average sector length for the airline, which has increased from 1,770 kilometres in 2005 to 2,160 kilometres in 2006 and more than 2,400 kilometres last year.

Domestic routes didn’t deliver – nor did Amsterdam

In the past the airline has experimented with domestic services from Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow) to London Stansted (competing head-to-head with easyJet), as well as international operations from Liverpool, London Stansted and Glasgow Prestwick. None of these lasted long as the airline ruthlessly axed routes that failed to deliver a satisfactory return.

Another experiment was to launch services on the Glasgow to Amsterdam route when easyJet pulled off at the end of the summer 2005 season. Daily services began on 10 February 2006, but frequency was soon reduced to just three weekly flights and the route was dropped less than four months after starting in June 2006. This may have been connected with Transavia also launching flights in March 2006 between Amsterdam and Glasgow Prestwick.

Two Dreamliners on order

Looking to the future, the airline has placed an order for two 787s, which it hopes will be delivered in 2010 to replace the 767s. These will be used on the Glasgow to Orlando route, as well as the UK to Western Canada routes.


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