Exeter-based airline is Regional Airline of the Year

Flybe triumphs as 2009 Regional Airline of the Year

Flybe, Europe’s largest and most successful regional airline celebrating the 2009 Regional Airline of the Year award announced by the widely acclaimed US-based global industry publication, Air Transport World (ATW). This global recognition is historic not just for Flybe but also for UK aviation given that it is only the second time in the 35-year history of the Awards that the winner has been from the UK, with five of the last six winners hailing from North America. In fact, no British airline has won an ATW award in any of the 12 categories for seven years.

The Award caps an amazing run of success for Flybe, being  the airline’s eighth major award in the last seven months; awards that included being ranked   number 1 in the Sunday Times 2008 Top Track 250 of privately-owned companies; being named best Domestic Airline at the Scottish Passenger Agents Association Travel Awards; winning the ‘Special Merit for Commitment to the Environment’ Award at the 2008 Budgie Awards and the airline’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim French, being awarded 2008 Regional Leadership Award at the Global Airline Strategy Awards.

Flybe, the only British carrier featuring in this year’s ATW Awards, clinched the top honour for ‘its strong commitment to safety and operational integrity’, the judging panel adding it had also ‘been impressed by Flybe’s successful growth strategy, including the acquisition of BA Connect in 2007, a bold stroke that has helped to catapult Flybe into its leadership position among Europe’s regional airlines’.

In acknowledging its triumph, Mr French, says: “This is a fantastic honour not just for Flybe but also for British aviation. ATW is the industry ‘bible’ and for a British airline to win this award in the country that pioneered regional aviation is a tremendous achievement. Air Transport World has been the best read airline magazine in the world for 45 consecutive years and has a readership of more than 150,000, the majority of whom work in the industry, so this award is unquestionably Flybe’s finest yet.”

In applauding Flybe’s role as an industry trendsetter, ATW also highlighted the airline’s commitment to operating a two-type fleet of fuel efficient aircraft, now one of the youngest in the world, achieved through strategic investment and a smooth transition from 50-seat regional jets to operating  larger, more fuel efficient turboprops.

 “Flybe was amongst the first to recognise the limitations of the 50-seat regional jets that revolutionised the industry in the 1990s, replacing them with larger, more fuel-efficient turboprops and 90-seat jets better suited to today’s market realities,” commented ATW’s Editorial Director, Perry Flint.

The judging panel also congratulated Flybe for its groundbreaking ecolabel initiative that informs travellers of the environmental implications of their choice of air travel by offering them what ATW describes as ‘an environmental report card’ on each flight they take.

Continues Mr French: “We’re naturally delighted to have been recognised with such a prestigious international award. It is testament to the success of the unique business model that Flybe has created and which is quite distinct from hardcore low cost and legacy airlines. It is a model that has made us Europe’s largest regional airline and one that it is still growing despite the global economic challenges.”