flybe had 15 international routes with £16m profit in 2019, RDC’s Apex shows – 11 still unserved

flybe had 15 international routes with £16m profit in 2019, RDC's Apex shows – 11 still unserved. Southampton key.

11 of flybe’s 15 most profitable routes in 2019 are still unserved. With an estimated EBIT of £1.12 million, Southampton to Bergerac is top, one of eight in the list from the South Coast airport.

Manchester to Paris CDG was flybe’s most profitable international route in 2019, RDC’s Apex platform indicates.  It achieved an estimated £3.33 million.

It was followed by Birmingham to CDG, with £2.77 million.

In all, flybe had 15 international routes with a combined EBIT of £16 million and a minimum of £410,000.

Read more: in September 2020, 78% of flybe’s international routes were still unserved.

Of flybe’s most profitable 15, the largest four by passengers are already served or have been announced.

The top-three routes – by both profit and passengers – are served, with KLM taking up Southampton to Amsterdam in August 2020.

Meanwhile, Southampton to Dublin – the 12th most profitable and the fourth largest – is coming in 2021.

With approximate profitability of £520,000 and 130,000 passengers, it’s not hard to see why.

However, rather than just flybe operating it, both Blue Islands and Eastern Airways will be.

This will be interesting, even before indirect competition by Ryanair from Bournemouth is considered, at least for leisure demand.

The question remains: who will take up the other 11 unserved routes, which had a combined £7.8 million profit?

flybe had 15 international routes with £16m profit in 2019, RDC's Apex shows – 11 still unserved. Southampton key.

Source: RDC Aviation. Note: yield excludes taxes but includes estimated ancillaries.

11 routes with £7.8 million profit still unserved; Southampton key

In the calendar year 2019, flybe had 109 international routes, OAG data shows.  This includes 24 from Southampton.

Yet of flybe’s 11 most profitable routes that remain unserved, eight were from Southampton. It was joined by one each from Birmingham, East Midlands, and Exeter.

Interestingly, we showed that Southampton has suffered most in terms of unfilled international routes in September.

But opportunities remain – with another operator potentially doing even better than flybe.

The table below highlights that Southampton – Bergerac was the most profitable of the remaining routes. It achieved an approximate £1.12 million and a profit per seat of £27 (per passenger: £35).  It is noteworthy that this route was year-round, although frequencies obviously changed dramatically by season.

With over 76,000 passengers, Southampton – Paris CDG was the largest of these 11, which had 344,000 when combined.

Southampton – CDG’s profit per seat was £6 (per passenger: £8), but that was more than Southampton to Dublin.

10 of these 11 unfilled routes had been served continuously for at least a decade, indicative of their contribution.

Only Southampton – CDG was not.  It was operated until 2010, and then again from 2016.  Paris Orly was served until 2017, with capacity greatly increased between 2011 and 2015.

Market Est. profit in 2019 Seats Est. profit per seat  Number of months served in 2019 Mid-August WF Aircraft Comments
Southampton – Bergerac £1,120,000 40,872 £27 12 7 Dash-8-400  
Southampton – Faro £900,000 18,880 £48 8: March to October 3 Embraer 195  
Birmingham – Milan Malpensa £880,000 64,728 £14 10: January to October 10 Embraer 175 and 195 Ended in October 2019
Southampton – Alicante £860,000 36,280 £24 10: January to October 6 Embraer 195 and Dash-8-400 Three-hour block by DH4; 2h 30m by E95
East Midlands – Amsterdam £820,000 55,692 £15 12 7 Dash-8-400  
Exeter – Amsterdam £670,000 75,036 £9 12 8 Dash-8-400  
Southampton – Verona £610,000 6,708 £91 5: May to September 2 Dash-8-400  
Southampton – Paris CDG £600,000 99,060 £6 12 12 Dash-8-400  
Southampton – Palma £520,000 15,596 £33 8: March to October 3 Embraer 195 and Dash-8-400 2h 45m block by DH4
Southampton – Malaga £440,000 25,016 £18 7: April to October 4 Embraer 195  
Southampton – Chambery £410,000 5,928 £69 5: Jan-Apr; December 0 Dash-8-400 Operated with 2 WF during winter
Source: RDC Aviation and OAG Schedules Analyser. We prefer profit per seat as it fairly accounts for unsold capacity. This is especially the case when not dealing with ULCCs with exceptionally high SLFs.

flybe 121% fare premium versus Ryanair from Bournemouth

Clearly, most of flybe’s international routes from Southampton were low frequency, low capacity, summer-seasonal, and with high average fares. 

Indeed, across all 11, there was a natural tendency for high profit per passenger to go with low traffic.

flybe competed indirectly with Ryanair from Bournemouth to Alicante, Faro, and Malaga, with the ULCC operating all three year-round. 

Both Ryanair and TUI also competed indirectly with flybe on a seasonal basis to Palma.

In 2019, flybe’s average one-way fare across these four routes was £143.10, against Ryanair’s £64.70. (These include estimated ancillaries but exclude government taxes.)

flybe’s year-round average was 121% higher.  The summer-only difference reduced to 107%, RDC indicates.

Southampton – Faro, the regional carrier’s second most profitable route that remains unserved, had the biggest fare difference: 151%.

Given the general profitability of Southampton and Bournemouth, there was probably insufficient capacity in the region. 

Will we see other carriers take up any of these 11 routes? 

With the right aircraft economics, pricing, schedule, and marketing – and a mask – they might be attractive.

flybe had 15 international routes with £16m profit in 2019, RDC's Apex shows – 11 still unserved. Southampton key.

Source: RDC Aviation. Note: yield excludes taxes but includes estimated ancillaries.


RDC provides world-leading aviation data through its online apps, data services, and APIs. Its Apex platform delivers airline route performance data (fares, profit, schedules, costs, CO2) while AirportCharges has detailed tariff data for over 3,000 airports as well as global en route navigation fees and government taxes. Over 250 companies subscribe to RDC’s services; visit their website, www.rdcaviation.com, to find more information and contact details.


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