Flybe plans to cut 500 more jobs after swinging to profit

Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:16am EST
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(Reuters) - Flybe Group Plc FLYB.L, operator of Europe's largest regional airline, said on Monday it would cut another 500 jobs, mainly in the UK, after deep cost cuts helped it post its first half-year profit in two years.

The company, which has already cut about 590 jobs this year, also said it would further reduce its routes, review its fleet mix, remove surplus capacity and improve aircraft and crew utilization.

"It was clear to me that the existing Phase 1 and 2 cost savings were necessary but we simply needed to do more and to do it immediately," Chief Executive Saad Hammad said in a statement.

Flybe said it had 2,700 employees as of end-September.

The airline will exit its slots at Gatwick airport by March 2014, reducing its London operations to just the few flights it runs out of Luton airport.

The company's shares rose as much as 28 percent to 87.40 pence, making the stock the top percentage gainer on the London Stock Exchange.

Up to Friday, the stock had lost more than three-quarters of its value since its listing in 2010 as the company struggled with soaring fuel costs, falling passenger numbers and higher airport charges.

Flybe, which counts British Airways parent IAG (ICAG.L: Quote) and billionaire investor George Soros among its top shareholders, reported a pretax profit of 13.8 million pounds ($22.1 million) for the six months ended September 30, compared with a loss of 1.6 million pounds a year earlier.

Revenue rose 20.4 percent to 477.3 million pounds.   Continued...

A Flybe aircraft lands at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland May 24, 2011. REUTERS/David Moir