Birmingham Airport named as Flybe’s new headquarters and crew base

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The revived regional carrier, Flybe, has revealed that Birmingham Airport in the UK will serve as its new headquarters and first new crew base. The launch of the new Flybe is expected not only to enhance essential regional connectivity in the UK, but also to create many valuable industry jobs and help restart local economies as they rebound from the pandemic.

The airline is among the first UK carriers to be certified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) since Brexit. It will serve key regions across the UK and EU with operations scheduled to begin in early 2022. In a move that will create around 200 direct new jobs in the Birmingham and West Midlands region, the airline’s HQ and operations centre will be located in Birmingham Airport’s Diamond House. An additional 400 direct jobs are projected to be created nationwide.

Describing Birmingham as “an ideal choice”, Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger, cited the city’s great people, highly skilled workforce, its central UK location and the airport’s function as a global travel as reasons behind choosing the West Midlands hub as its home base.

“The 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,” he said.

Meanwhile Nick Barton, Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport added: “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. We look forward to working with Dave and his team in preparation for next spring and to launch such a well-known brand here in Birmingham.”

Editor’s comment: The regional revival

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While it might not be quite the ‘great revival’ we’ve all been waiting for, Europe’s regional aviation sector has received a much needed boost this week with new life being given to old brands.

In a bid to encourage passengers living close to Norwich Airport to travel from their local hub, travel agency Fred Olsen is set to revive the Travel Norwich Airport brand after it ceased trading earlier this year. Fred Olsen plans to work with airlines and operators flying from Norwich to support holidays and travellers flying from the region.

Commenting on the new venture Richard Pace, Managing Director at Norwich Airport, said: “It’s important for our industry and our region that commercial flying returns to growth as quickly as possible and this announcement will give greater choice and a significant boost to the airport.”

Meanwhile, regional and secondary airports in Britain and western Europe will be spurred on by the news that Thyme Opco, a company affiliated to hedge fund firm Cyrus Capital, has acquired the brand and assets of Flybe. The regional carrier went bust earlier this year, however, Thyme Opco is now looking to revive Flybe. By doing so not only will it restore essential regional connectivity, but it will also create employment opportunities and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the UK’s economy. According to Flybe’s administrator Ernst & Young, the airline could restart in early 2021.

And delivering another confidence boost for smaller hubs serving domestic and regional flights, an online poll conducted during Kiwi.com’s Virtual Interlining workshop hosted by AviaDev Europe on Wednesday 21 October found that the bulk (45%) of those surveyed believed that smaller airports with a majority of point-to-point traffic would be first to recover. By contrast 37% of delegates thought large airports would recover first.

According to Kiwi.com’s Head of Airport Partnerships, Patrick Zeuner, airports can use that point-to-point connectivity to replace lost transfer traffic by creating a virtual hub for self-connecting passengers. “It’s a win-win situation,” he said explaining that ultimately, virtual interlining can result in increased traffic and increased passenger spend, both in an airport and the destination it serves.

Whether it’s breathing new life into an old brand or collaborating with other stakeholders to create a virtual hub, it’s good to see airports and airlines continuing to fight back following the fallout from the global pandemic.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank

Editor, Regional Gateway.