Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe has unveiled new routes between Scotland and Heathrow for the first time and appointed aviation and travel industry engineer Christine Ourmieres-Widener as chief executive.
Flybe will offer more than 40 scheduled flights a week from Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The new routes complement Flybe’s London City flights from the two Scottish airports.
It will operate the slots which became available at Heathrow as a result of commitments required by the European Commission following the acquisition of BMI by British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group.
Flybe is not required to pay to use the slots, other than to meet Heathrow landing and passenger charges. The slots will not be purchased by Flybe and will therefore not be brought onto the balance sheet.
It will be using Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and will offer ‘One Stop to the World’ connectivity to its codeshare and interline partners.
This route expansion means that, with effect from 26 March Flybe will offer up to 18 flights a day between London and Edinburgh, and 10 between London and Aberdeen.
Executive chairman, Simon Laffin, said: “We are delighted to announce our first flights to London Heathrow, significantly enhancing our UK domestic route network and offering even better links between Scotland and London.
“The new routes to Heathrow complement the existing ones we operate to London City, and will benefit our business customers and customers in Scotland who want to connect with our long haul codeshare partners.
“We have long been lobbying for Heathrow to offer more opportunities for domestic flights to enhance regional connectivity. Whilst other operators may have dismissed the possibility of further domestic routes into Heathrow, we look forward to working with the airport to further expand the range of domestic destinations.”
Heathrow’s Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, added: “Improving the connections into Heathrow from all around the UK will be vital in helping to secure the economic future of communities in every corner of the nation.”
Flybe’s new CEO started her career in the maintenance department of Air France, later working in sales systems, then director of sales & marketing for Amadeus France.
Ms Ourmieres-Widener was vice president international sales, general manager UK & Ireland, then vice president in New York for Air France KLM.
Between 2010 and 2015, she was the CEO of Cityjet, and since then has been chief global sales officer for American Express global business travel.
Simon Laffin will return to being non-executive chairman when she joins the business next month.
He said: “We are delighted that Christine is joining Flybe at what a very exciting time for the company, as we transition to become an increasingly customer-driven business.
“Christine brings extensive experience of aviation and travel, as well as deep knowledge of the UK regional aviation market, which will be extremely valuable to Flybe. I very much look forward to working with her.”
Ms Ourmieres-Widener, commented: “I am very excited to be joining Flybe and being able to bring my industry experience and passion to the business.
“I look forward to working with the board and the entire team to continue Flybe’s progression to becoming a more customer-focussed business, aided by the greater control the airline now has over its future fleet size.
“As Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe is already in a strong position and I believe can deliver significantly more over the coming years.”