The regional airline Flybe reported soaring profits yesterday but said it will reduce capacity by 6 per cent over the winter amid falling demand. Europe's biggest regional airline said underlying profits rose 74 per cent to £14.3m in the six months to 30 September after it was boosted by higher passenger numbers in the UK and the acquisition of an airline in Finland.
But the group, which flies from UK airports including Birmingham and Edinburgh said revenues from forward ticket sales for this winter are 1 per cent lower than a year ago.
It will reduce the number of seats flown over the winter by 6 per cent compared to a year ago.
Jim French, Flybe's executive chairman, said the advantage of Flybe's high flight frequency meant it could cut flights without cutting routes.
The fall in winter sales comes on the back of a warning that demand had slowed in September. Analyst Douglas McNeill, of Charles Stanley, said: "Demand doesn't appear to have recovered much since the profit warning, and that's a concern."
It echoes an announcement from Ryanair, which said passenger numbers will fall 10 per cent this month as it grounds more planes this winter.
Flybe said revenues at its UK business increased 7 per cent to £329m in the half-year as sales rose 6 per cent to £342m.