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Flybe's French lashes out, Monarch puts the fun back in flying, Ryanair signs deal with Adara, how to get a free upgrade, and much more

Flybe’s French lashes out as carrier leaves Gatwick


Flybe’s French lashes out as carrier leaves Gatwick

Flybe has used Gatwick Airport for 22 years, and says it has made the decision to leave with “regret and anger” (credit: Flybe)


Despite every effort by businesses to kick start the UK’s lacklustre economy, the government continues to neglect aviation as a core industry, claims UK regional carrier Flybe, while some airports have also failed to support their customers.


Announcing its plans to leave London Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second busiest hub, Flybe blames a combination of high Air Passenger Duty (APD) as well as a 102% rise in fees from Gatwick over the last five years, and believes it is being penalised as a regional carrier.


Jim French, Flybe’s chairman and chief executive officer says: “We have to accept the ugly reality that Gatwick simply doesn’t want smaller, regional aircraft at its airport and, with the absence of a regional aviation strategy and the government’s penalistic and ludicrous policy of charging APD on both legs of a domestic flight, I’m afraid it’s inevitable that high-frequency services from the UK’s regions will ultimately be squeezed out of Gatwick, as they have been from Heathrow.”


The carrier, which operates 166 routes in the UK and Europe, sold its Gatwick slots – available from March 2014 – to easyJet for £20 million ($30.3 million). The move comes after what Flybe called a “lengthy and expensive” complaint to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), first initiated in 2010. It argued, under the Airports Act 1986, that Gatwick was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by raising its landing fees for smaller aircraft. The CAA ruled in favour of Gatwick in September last year.


“No business can swallow such a massive increase in such a short period of time, and it is with real regret and some anger that we have made this decision,” added French. “Flybe fully appreciates the implications this will have, not only on individual passengers, but also on the wider regional economies that have come to rely on the convenient lifeline connections we provide to Gatwick.


“Gatwick airport may not want those connecting passengers, but others do. Flybe will work with our airports across the nation to ensure the UK’s regional passengers don’t get left in the cold,” continued French.


A spokesman for Gatwick told Low Cost & Regional Airline Business that the airport was saddened by the departure. “Flybe has been a valued customer of London Gatwick for over 20 years and we are disappointed that [it] has made the decision to sell its landing slots, but we remain committed to supporting its operations here until it exits.”


Flybe will continue to operate its seven routes from the south eastern airport until the end of March next year – and has promised passengers no changes to pricing, frequency or timings.


Partly in a bid to raise awareness of the UK’s APD, Flybe has offered several weekend promotions, paying APD on behalf of its passengers, lowering fares by £13 each way. Simon Lilley, Flybe’s director of marketing, commented at the time: “Our original promotion was designed to highlight the unfairness of APD, especially for domestic passengers who have to pay twice.”


Flybe, which along with many carriers has struggled in a difficult economic environment, told the London Stock Exchange that it was making good progress towards returning to profitability. It has found £30 million in annual cost savings for 2013/14, and has agreed a deal with British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA) for a 5% reduction in salary in return for extra time off.



Putting the fun back in flying

Since launching its new travel app in May, Monarch Airlines reports over 10,000 downloads and a listing on the top 30 Apple travel apps. The app, called Monarch, is designed to make the travel experience easier – particularly at the airport – according to the leisure carrier.


The app allows users to find and book flights, provides airport information, and has a currency converter among other features. Another interesting built-in service is for customers who need directions to the airport, who can type in a postcode, select the chosen airport, and the app will then direct the user and let them know if there are traffic problems on the way so that the journey is planned accordingly.


“Feedback has been positive with customers commenting particularly on the usefulness of the flight status tracker, [the] find my car [feature], the currency convertor and directions to and from the airport – features that are not usually offered on airline apps,” says Kevin George, managing director, Monarch Airlines. “We have also received suggestions for other new features and functionality that customers would value in future releases and, as we work on enhancements, we will [include] some of these suggestions. Further updates of will be released over the coming months.”



Reaping rewards from website data

Ryanair recently signed an exclusive three-year partnership with data-driven marketing firm Adara. Adara’s technology enables advertisers across Europe to reach the carrier’s large customer base through highly targeted digital campaigns.


The agreement is for advertising on, Europe’s largest travel website, which attracts 1.2 million users per day. It gives companies throughout Europe access to a media-targeting platform and digital advertising campaigns that are data-driven and precision targeted.


“We identified the need for a platform which can connect advertisers with active customers within their key markets,” comments Scott Garner, chief commercial officer at Adara. “To do this you need first-hand data direct from the source and the ability to segment and target, in real time, while ensuring that privacy is maintained. Ryanair is our first major European airline data partner, but we also work with Air Baltic, LOT and Estonian Air, and expect to announce other airlines soon. We picked up a further $20 million of funding this February and will use that to accelerate our international expansion. We’re opening our first European offices in Dublin and London, giving us a team on the ground in the region. We’re confident that low-cost carriers (LCCs) will be interested in our ability to generate incremental revenues at a time when airlines need all the help they can get,” he explains.


Adara uses advanced precision-targeting technology powered by big data sourced from various travel and hospitality companies around the world. The technology helps airlines, hotels and travel distributors to monetise their website data while protecting consumer privacy, personal information and purchase data.


Ryanair recently signed an exclusive three-year partnership with Adara is Europe’s busiest travel website, attracting 1.2 million people a day (credit: Boeing)

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