30-Second Interview – Roy Kinnear, CCO of Flybe

Flybe

Flybe’s recently appointed CCO Roy Kinnear welcomed anna.aero’s Jonathan Ford to the UK carrier’s headquarters in Exeter on 6 February. Kinnear, formerly CEO of Air Seychelles, spoke about his new role at Flybe and the attributes he brings to the airline following his recent appointment.

anna.aero’s Assistant Editor Jonathan Ford recently travelled to Exeter, in the UK county of Devon, to meet with Roy Kinnear, recently appointed CCO at Flybe, Europe’s largest regional carrier. He joined the UK operator from Air Seychelles where he was CEO for a number of years, with past roles at bmi and Etihad Airways.

anna.aero: “Coming from a small airline that operated a mixture of long-haul and medium-haul services, what have been the main challenges you have experienced so far moving to a regional operator?”

Roy Kinnear: “Bearing in mind my background, the first four weeks were not a surprise given three decades in the industry. When you move into a new organisation in a different part of the world, things are culturally different. You have to build a rapport with new regulatory bodies, work style and culture as well. The challenge is time, because everybody internally and externally wants time with you. So, it has been about managing time and how in those first few weeks you can gain, what I call, an 80/20 understanding of how the company works, what its challenges are, what its main objectives are, and where everything pieces together.”

aa: “Have you managed to introduce yourself to most of the people who work in head office?”

RK: “That is what I spent my first two weeks doing. I did not come in to be a CCO who locked himself in the commercial division behind closed doors, and spend time solely with his own team. I did the opposite. I spent time across the business, with technical, flight operations, cabin crew, ground services, finance and our communications team. It’s about discovering across the company who’s who, what the hotspots are across the operation, building an understanding of everybody’s objectives and priorities. Essentially how the jigsaw fits together and understanding where my role in commercial plays out amongst all that.”

aa: “What personal skills and experience have you gained that you are bringing to Flybe to help the airline going forward?”

RK: “I come from a very numerical, commercial and revenue management-driven background. I ran a billion dollar plus cargo company operation with an airline, I’ve done revenue planning for an airline plus its partners across all of its functions, and for the last two and a half years I was lucky enough to sit in the CEO seat. Granted it was a different airline geographically, but I bring that experience here, working with senior executives and understanding the A to Z of how we drive profitability to the bottom line.”

aa: “With the consolidation of the airline’s capacity, can we expect Flybe to announce any significant network changes in the next 12-18 months?”

RK: “Before I joined Flybe, it was public knowledge that the airline was reducing capacity to better match customer demand. We will continue that process and reduce unprofitable flying. I do not think the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should necessarily be aircraft utilisation but it does need to be profitable flying. So that’s number one and we continue with the consolidation process to remove unprofitable flying. Over and above that, a network is there to be constantly reviewed and developed. Routes do not just stand still, things change economically, both competitor wise and for many other reasons. I am somebody who believes in making strong decisions based on the right information. In fine-tuning a network it is important to always be on the lookout to identify any suitable opportunities for considered growth; on the other hand, if a particular route is not working then it is pointless to continue with it if there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

aa: “Since partnering with Stobart Air and most recently Eastern Airways, how have these ventures benefited Flybe? Has the airline seen any changes in booking patterns from customers since parting with Loganair?”

RK: “We have an excellent working relationship with all our franchise partners. On 5 February we announced the termination of our Glasgow-Stornoway and Aberdeen-Kirkwall routes with Eastern Airways. This was a good example of a joint decision where we sat down and looked at the numbers and agreed that these two operations did not work for either party, so we stopped them. We are using our partnerships in the right way to enhance our network and deliver sustainable and profitable routes. With regards to other partnerships around the world, in October we are moving on to the Amadeus platform. That is a significantly different platform for us and will give us a significantly enhanced baseline to be able, for example, to offer and sell two-way codeshares not only with our existing partners, but also with our increasing number of codeshare partners around the world.”

aa: “Although Flybe has been offering connections and codeshares for a number of years, major players including easyJet and Norwegian now have similar partnerships with other airlines. Does Flybe have any concerns over these partnerships? Is the carrier working to establish more codeshares?”

RK: “We need to be mindful that these new partnership models may not be replicas of traditional codeshare agreements which include a single ticket (and price), through checking of bags and seat allocation for the entire journey which is what we offer with our codeshare partners. We of course look at these new models as they are innovating. Whilst I believe Flybe should also be at the forefront of innovation it does not necessarily need to replicate these models. What I think you’ll see is Flybe focusing on upcoming technology with a focus on strengthening our own network to drive the company forward.”

aa: “On 31 January Flybe announced that passenger revenue in the third quarter of fiscal 2018 grew 8.5% while passenger numbers increased by 8.1%. How has Flybe been able to achieve this despite reducing capacity?”

RK: “There is a combination of contributing factors here. I mentioned earlier that we have been very open about cutting our unprofitable flying. We are starting to see the fruits of our plan by bringing capacity discipline to our operation as against pursuing continual growth. We are also seeing good revenue growth and management that takes into account peak times of day, peak days of week and direction flows versus off-peak flying so we can attract customers by providing value offerings to travel off peak. We have a perishable product and this is still revenue, and the seats are going to fly anyway, so it is about revenue and load growth. I believe that a combination utilising these indicators, coupled with decreased capacity, is why we are seeing a good results. So the revenue per seat growth is healthy – long may it continue.”

aa: “With the consolidation of capacity, has the carrier planned what is going to happen with the E175s and E195s, are they going to stay in the fleet for many more years to come? Or could Flybe become an all Q400-operator in the next few years?”

RK: “We are in the midst of a fleet review so I am not in a position at this point in time to comment on what the likely outcome of the process will be. There is a whole evaluation process to complete before presenting our Board with a final recommendation.”

aa: “Is Flybe part of the new operations occurring at Carlisle Airport? Or if it is Stobart Air, is Flybe helping establish these services?”

RK: “There has been no approach to Flybe at this point in time to consider operating into Carlisle.”

aa: “Finally, what’s your favourite thing about Flybe since you have joined?”

RK: “There are a number of things that stand out. The work ethic is most certainly high and the desire for the company to do well is strong throughout the organisation. It is a pleasant experience to work in a company where everybody is focused on doing better. All the ingredients are there. We will have to take some tough, strong decisions to drive us to profitability next year. But it is like a making a cake – a decision is taken on what type of cake to bake, make sure all the ingredients are there and then shaping it all the right way. But I am absolutely convinced that success is there for the taking if we take the right decisions.”

Flybe Roy Kinnear

Flybe’s Roy Kinnear: “There are a number of things that stand out at Flybe. The work ethic is most certainly high and the desire for the company to do well is strong throughout the organisation. It is a pleasant experience to work in a company where everybody is focused on doing better.”


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