Air Transport World

FlyBE's new clothes: the former British European has transformed itself into a low-fare Regional Airline.(Profile)(Company Profile)

When FlyBE CEO Jim French extolled the virtues of the Q400 turboprop and questioned the economics of the wildly popular regional jet three years ago, he raised more than a few eyebrows arming members of the European Regions Airline Assn. "I was asked to sit in the corner with a pointed hat," he recalls with a smile. "The next year, I could take the hat off: And last year, I sat with everyone else."

Unconventional though his idea may have been, it may be starting to pay off for this Regional carrier, formerly known as British European, which returned four 50-seat CRJ200s to the lessor in May and placed a follow-on order for 17 Q400s and 20 options valued at $818 million. The fleet currently consists of 16 BAe 146s, three Dash 8-200s, four Dash 8-300s and seven Q400s from a previous order.

For the fiscal year ended last March 31, FlyBE cut its net loss to just 800,000 [pounds sterling] ($1.28 million), down from a deficit of 16.4 million [pounds sterling] in the previous year. It is projecting a modest profit of 2.5 million [pounds sterling] on sales of 236. …

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