The Paris terrorist attacks in November led to a “significant hiatus” in airline bookings, the boss of Flybe admitted today.
In a trading statement for the three months to December 31, the regional carrier saw passenger revenue per seat fall by 6.1% year-on-year to £46.61.
The load factor also dropped by 5.4 percentage points to 68.9%.
The airline has subsequently trimmed its capacity growth by about 10 percentage points for the current quarter.
This followed a 10.1% rise in capacity in the autumn quarter to 2.8 million seats as the airline saw a 2.1% rise in passengers carried to 1.92 million.
Passenger revenue in the period grew by 3.6% to £128.9 million.
Forward bookings at January 24 show that fewer seats have been sold at 37% against 40% a year earlier with a 6.2% drop in passenger reveue per seat but a 2% increase in yield.
Chief executive, Saad Hammad, said: “The tragic events in Paris overshadowed this last quarter and caused a significant hiatus in airline bookings, not just to France, but also on UK domestic and near-continent travel.
“As we expected, the combination of higher capacity in the market and lower spot fuel prices have led to lower yields sector-wide, even as the benefits start to come through from the unwinding of fuel price hedging.
“In this uncertain environment, we decided to protect yields rather than to chase unprofitable marginal revenue.
“As a result, revenue has grown by 3.6%, and this, together with continued reductions in unit costs, reinforces our resilience as a business, now that all legacy issues have been resolved.”
He added: “Passenger demand is now slowly recovering and reflecting a later booking profile.
“Meanwhile, it is encouraging that our focus on business travellers is increasingly recognised as being amongst the best in the industry.”
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