Flybe Chief Executive Ponders Future Route Cuts Due to Environmental Responsibility

A Flybe Dash 8 flies overhead (Photo: AirlineGeeks.com | James Dinsdale)

Two days after announcing a rebranding to Virgin Connect in 2020 and the offer of “more choice for customers through improved connectivity between UK regional airports, “the chief executive officer of Europe’s largest regional carrier, Flybe, has stated that the airline may cease flying on some routes in the future. Speaking in an interview with the PA news agency at an aviation industry event in London on Thursday, Mark Anderson cited environmental concerns as the reason the airline may not operate certain routes.

“We will potentially say ‘Actually this makes more sense by train or this makes more sense by road,'” Anderson said in relation to a question on environmental responsibility. Flybe operates a number of routes within the U.K which are currently connected by direct trains or will have high-speed rail connections if the proposed High Speed 2 project is implemented from 2026.

Climate awareness has been at the forefront of the news cycle in the U.K. in recent weeks with mass demonstrations by the group Extinction Rebellion. The group has targeted all forms of transport including a protestor gluing himself to the top of a British Airways aircraft at London City Airport last week and a similar protest targeted a London Underground train on Thursday.

The issue of ‘flight shaming’ has been in the news repeatedly in recent weeks and a television program on a U.K. Committee on Climate Change commissioned report, which screened this week on the BBC, discussed a proposed ‘Air Miles Levy’. The independent report, titled ‘Behaviour Change, Public Engagement and Net Zero’ outlined a range of proposals that could be enacted to change the behavior of the U.K. public in response to the increasing climate crisis and the government commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The Air Miles Levy, if introduced, would seek to discourage what the committee calls ‘excessive flying’ by the 15 percent of the U.K. population who fly frequently and account for 70 percent of flights. The proposal would be achieved by banning airline frequent flyer and loyalty schemes, which the report stated encouraged some travelers to take additional flights to “maintain their privileged traveler status.” According to the report, there would be an increase in the levy related to “the number of air miles flown, rather than the number of flights taken.”

The report also proposed more clear information given to passengers about the environmental impact of the flights they are choosing to take. The Committee on Climate Change has stressed that the report by Dr. Richard Carmichael from Imperial College “does not reflect the view of the Committee” and that the committee “do not agree with all of the recommendations.” Though the committee did not stipulate which of the recommendations they did not agree with.

John Flett

John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content.

John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.
John Flett