Flybe returned to the black in the second year of a three-year financial turn-around plan, figures released this morning show.
The regional airline reported a pre-tax profit of £5.5 million for the year to March 31 against a loss of £25.4 million in the previous 12 months.
The improved performance came in the face of “adverse bookings” following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and Brussels in March.
Passenger carryings rose by 5.9% to 8.2 million with total revenue up by 8.7% to £623.8 million.
The carrier reported an 8% rise in seats sold for the current financial year with 43% of capacity sold against 46% at this time last year. Capacity is up by 17% year-on-year but yields have dropped by 5% and passenger revenue per seat is down by 12%.
Flybe described the current industry environment as being “challenging” due to the threat of terrorist activity, industrial unrest in France, consumer uncertainty ahead of the June 23 EU referendum “and the highest level of seat capacity growth in the European short-haul market for six years”.
The airline added: “In light of this, Flybe will remain disciplined in pricing, continue to focus on unit cost reduction, and maintain its capacity discipline through continuing fleet transactions.”
Reviewing the past 12 months, chief executive Saad Hammad said: "This year was the second full year of our three-year transformation plan and our performance has been very encouraging.
“We achieved profitability for the first time as a public company, following losses in every year since Flybe's stock market flotation in 2010.
“We delivered top-line growth in a difficult revenue environment, expanding our network and carrying more passengers than last year. We drove our unit costs down further.”
The airline also resolved its last key legacy issue, with solutions delivered for its remaining Embraer E195 jets.
“As a result of all the action we have taken, Flybe is now a much more resilient business and well positioned for profitable growth,” Hammad added.
“We are pleased with this performance and confident that we are well placed to navigate the current industry challenges with the strongest balance sheet in our history and a disciplined organisation which is already taking cost and capacity actions to support profit growth in the coming year.
“As we enter the final year of our turnaround, we have set down strong foundations for the future and made good progress in transforming Flybe into a sustainable, world-class regional European airline."
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