Flybe plans major new base at Birmingham Airport

British low-cost regional airline, Flybe, is looking to expand at Birmingham Airport, creating 50 jobs and offering seven new passenger routes.

The airline will fly to Alicante, Bordeaux, Cologne, Florence, Palma, Porto and Toulouse, the BBC said in a report. Flybe will now operate 32 summer routes to and from Birmingham, up to a maximum of 375 return flights each week, totalling 1.7m seats.

In November, the Exeter-based airline revealed plans to close six bases, including Aberdeen, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey and Newcastle, and to axe 500 jobs.

Announcing the closure plans last year, Flybe chief executive, Saad Hammad, said that redundancies were ‘necessary to secure a long-term future for Flybe’. A former EasyJet executive, Hammad was named Flybes new chief in July.

Balpa, the British Airline Pilots Association, said that it welcomed the news of expansion in Birmingham, ‘especially given recent downsizing announcements elsewhere’.

‘Our efforts continue to reduce the impact of redundancies and job cuts on individuals as the airline restructures,’ it added.

Three of the aircraft on the new Birmingham schedule will be transferred from other regional hubs, the company said.

Paul Simmons, from Flybe, said that the decision to base extra aircraft at the airport was ‘a vote of confidence in the local economy’.

William Pearson, from Birmingham Airport, said: ‘Not only will this growth make Birmingham Airport Flybe’s biggest ever base, it will also become our largest carrier, flying up to 400,000 extra passengers a year and serving nearly two million travellers in total.’

Flybe, which is in the middle of a restructuring, said separately that it was working to cut the costs of grounding some of its fleet and now expects fewer job losses than previously announced.

Under its ‘Immediate Actions’ plan announced in November, the airline proposed 500 redundancies and estimated one-time charges of GBP14m in the current year, plus a further £27m in 2014-15 for grounding aircraft. The company is now expecting total job losses to be around 450.