Britain's biggest regional airline Flybe triggers fares war with dramatic expansion of domestic flights

Travel Correspondent

Stay in bed in Devon an hour longer, arrive in London 40 minutes earlier and save £83 on the train fare: that's how Britain's biggest regional airline is seeking to tempt the citizens of Exeter.

Flybe has signalled an autumn fares war on domestic travel, against rival airlines and train operators. The Exeter-based airline has launched a new network of flights connecting cities in Britain and Ireland with London City airport (LCY). One-way fares start at £35.

Each weekday from 27 October, 30 flights will operate to or from the Docklands airport on five routes, using 78-seat Bombardier turboprops.

Flybe will launch four daily flights to Edinburgh and Dublin. They will compete with British Airways and CityJet respectively, both of which use jet aircraft.

There are currently no air links between Exeter and London, but Flybe claims its first flight of the day – departing Devon at 6.40am, arriving in the capital at 8am – will entice business travellers from First Great Western trains. Seats on Exeter-London flights are currently being sold for £35 one-way, compared with £118 for an “Anytime” ticket on the first train of the day. “Advance” rail tickets as low as £19 are sold on the route, but are difficult to find on the earliest departure.

A spokesman for First Great Western said: “This is good news for the South West, providing those travelling with greater choices. However, with the time taken to check-in at London City and the distance Exeter airport is to Exeter city centre, rail remains a strong, viable alternative.”

The fastest trains between Exeter St David’s and London Paddington take just over two hours, compared with Flybe’s flight time of 80 minutes. Wi-Fi is being fitted to all First Great Western’s high-speed services over the coming months.

Flybe is also launching three flights a day to London City from Belfast, and two from Inverness. All flights come with a timekeeping promise: “If you arrive more than 60 minutes late, due to reasons within our control, we’ll give you a £60 flight credit.”

Flybe’s chief executive, Saad Hammad, rejected the suggestion that the move could lead to an all-out fares war. He told The Independent: “I’m not expecting kamikaze behaviour from the competitors. Our sense is that there is enough demand on these routes. We are the champion of the regions.”

The Belfast, Edinburgh and Inverness flights serve destinations that easyJet already offers from other London airports. An easyJet spokeswoman said: “Other airlines have a tough job to compete with our well-known low fares and friendly service.”

A spokeswoman for British Airways said: “We always welcome competition and believe that we offer our customers travelling from London City airport a great service and value for money.”

London City’s chief executive, Declan Collier, said: “Flybe will bring an immediate uplift of up to half a million new passengers to the airport. In addition, Flybe’s selection of routes serves to cement further LCY’s status as the business traveller’s airport of choice.”

Flybe plans to launch off-peak leisure flights from London City to ski airports in the Alps, provincial cities in France and destinations in northern Spain.

Train vs Plane

Prices quoted are return fares for travel to London on Friday evening, back on Monday morning (Inverness train: Friday night/Sunday night, including a berth both ways). Rail fares are for July; later dates are not yet available. Return air fares are for November; luggage excluded.

  • Exeter: Plane £75, train £58
  • Edinburgh: Plane £130, train £63
  • Inverness: Plane £115, train £227
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea