Cardiff craves new routes

Cardiff Airport is keen to ‘examine the possibility’ of a Flybe expansion at the Welsh hub, following news that the carrier wants to buy up to 140 new planes.

Flybe has already secured 35 new jets, at a cost of £850m. The aircraft, which are made by Embraer, are expected to arrive after September 2011.

Jim French, Flybe’s CEO, claims that the airline’s new toys will secure its position as a market leader in Europe. The planes are from Embraer’s E-family, and include the E-175, an 88-seat, low-emission model.

Flybe’s total investment, if it purchases the intended 140 aircraft, is in the region of £3.3bn. The move has been pounced on by airport bosses, who hope that the carrier’s extravagance signals a series of new routes at Flybe bases throughout the UK.

Officials at Liverpool, Birmingham, and most recently, Cardiff airports have been speculating as to what Flybe intends to do with its new aeroplanes.

Mike Rutter, the airline’s CEO, has said that routes to the Channel Islands and Scandinavia could be created, but the executive did not mention which airports would benefit from expansion. Flybe is especially keen to resume a jet service to Guernsey, however, following the route’s cancellation in 2008.

Cardiff Airport boss, Steve Hodgetts, was hopeful – “we welcome any discussions with Flybe about expanding the airline’s operation at Cardiff. There is great demand for services to important business and leisure destinations.”

Steve cited Germany and France as key growth locations, and referred to the airline as an “ideal partner.”

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