Flybe turned from Purple and Orange into red with the Virgin Connect move.

LONDON – UK regional carrier Flybe has increased the pressure on the market against British Airways (BA) with the inauguration of services between London-Heathrow (LHR) and the Isle of Man (IOM).

British Airways currently uses its subsidiary, BA Cityflyer, to try and penetrate as much of the regional market as possible.

However, this new route launch is thanks to the backing of Flybe’s new owner, Connect Airways, who has been able to inject enough funds to continue expanding into the domestic and regional market.

Roy Kinnear, CCO at Flybe expressed how happy he was about the initial response to sales of this route. “We have been extremely heartened by the initial response to this new route since seats went on sale last month. The level of early bookings indicates clearly this is a much-requested service,” he said.

“We are pleased to provide the Isle of Man with renewed connectivity to the capital and onwards to the multiple long-haul destinations available via Heathrow.”

The utilization of Flybe’s fleet towards the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 has enabled it to bring prices down against the likes of Cityflyer from London City Airport (LCY).

The market approach of each individual carrier could be seen to be rather different, however. For instance, LCY does appeal to the more business end of the market, whereas Flybe from LHR provides more of a gateway into Greater London.

Furthermore, looking at prices from April 30, 2019, the fares loom around £51 ($66) to fly with Flybe from LHR, but around £108 ($140) to fly British Airways from LCY.

It could end up changing the business market a little as BA could begin to lose customers if affordability isn’t achieved on its side.

With the Isle of Man being a significant innovator in the Digital Economy, there is also room for further business market capture.

Ann Reynolds, Isle of Man Director of Ports responded that the Isle of Man “is an award-winning international Business Centre with a dynamic and expanding digital economy and a popular tourist destination.”

Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 G-JEDP seen departing runway 15 at Birmingham (EGBB, BHX). Picture: Thomas Saunders.

“The new daily Heathrow service by Flybe from the Island has really opened up the opportunity for visitors to come to the Island whilst opening up worldwide destinations for both leisure and business for island residents.”  

The business market capture element may not be the case due to the flight times that are on offer. The service departs the Isle of Man at 1350L, with the arrival of 1510L.

The return departs at 1705L, arriving back into IOM at 1825L.

Plenty of businessmen who fly into London do have extended stays there, offering opportunity everywhere for the airline to pick up any further business away from British Airways.

Flybe has also committed to this route significantly, with it running on a daily basis.

For this carrier, it is a continued strong strategy outside of the London Heathrow area, especially with new routes to the likes of Edinburgh, Newquay and Guernsey, further connecting more regional areas across the country.

It will be interesting to see how British Airways and other carriers within the London market respond to this and whether we could see any potential price wars down the line.