Flybe have sold all its slots at Gatwick for £20 million to Easyjet axing all its existing internal flights to Belfast City, Guernsey, Inverness, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay.
Flybe will terminate flights by March 2014 and blame the high charges levied by Gatwick airport that have risen by more than 100% in 5 years. The airline claims that it is uneconomic to operate an internal flight service using smaller aircraft from Gatwick.
The government’s Air Passenger Duty was the final nail in the coffin for the viability of these routes and the funds from the sale will be invested in the remaining routes at other airports.
Flybe maintain that connections to such destinations will remain in the balance because airlines are unable to compete with other airlines flying longer distances in bigger planes where load values provide sufficient margin.
In 2010, it waged a lengthy and expensive legal challenge to the increases applied by Gatwick only to be told that the airport were within its right to levy these landing charges and with regret the airline has now decided it would be better off concentrating its efforts elsewhere.
Early indications are that Easyjet will use these 25 slots to complement its existing routes and not takeover these existing routes that will mean a loss of flights to these destination, that goes some way to vindicating Flybe’s decision.