Flybe adds Heathrow flights, new CEO

Christine Ourmieres-Widener

Regional airline Flybe said it will soon offer more than 40 scheduled flights a week from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to London Heathrow.

Flybe also said it hired Christine Ourmieres-Widener as its chief executive officer from American Express Global Business Travel.

Flybe said it is heading to Heathrow for the first time in March next year with the new Aberdeen and Edinburgh flights next year.

The airline already flies between London City airport and the two Scottish airports.  

Flybe will operate the Heathrow slots which became available as a result of commitments required by the European Commission following the acquisition of BMI by International Consolidated Airlines Group.

Flybe said it is not required to pay to use the slots, other than to meet Heathrow landing and passenger charges.

“The slots will not be purchased by Flybe and will therefore not be brought onto the balance sheet,” said the airline.

Flybe will use Heathrow’s Terminal 2 for the new flights and fares will start at £39.99 one way including taxes and charges. 

This expansion means that from March 26, 2017, Flybe will offer up to 18 flights a day between London and Edinburgh, and 10 between London and Aberdeen.

Flybe executive chairman, Simon Laffin, said:  “We are delighted to announce our first flights to London Heathrow, significantly enhancing our UK domestic route network and offering even better links between Scotland and London.

“The new routes to Heathrow complement the existing ones we operate to London City, and will benefit our business customers and customers in Scotland who want to connect with our long haul codeshare partners.

“Flybe is the leading airline serving UK domestic passengers and these new services position us well to serve our passengers in both Scotland and the South East. 

“We have long been lobbying for Heathrow to offer more opportunities for domestic flights to enhance regional connectivity.

“Whilst other operators may have dismissed the possibility of further domestic routes into Heathrow, we look forward to working with the airport to further expand the range of domestic destinations.” 

Meanwhile, Ourmieres-Widener will join Flybe as CEO on January 16, 2017. 

Her remuneration will include an annual basic salary of £400,000 and an annual bonus entitlement of up to 100% of salary — and she will be entitled to participate in the Flybe performance share plan.

Flybe will pay £120,000 relocation costs for Ourmieres-Widener and her family to move from New York. Her notice period is 12 months on either side.

Ourmieres-Widener started her career in the maintenance department of Air France, later working in sales systems, then director of sales & marketing for Amadeus France.

She served as vice president international sales, general manager UK & Ireland, then vice president in New York for Air France KLM.

Between 2010 and 2015, she was the CEO of Cityjet, and since then has been chief global sales officer for American Express Global Business Travel. 

Laffin will return to the role of non-executive chairman.

Laffin said: “Christine brings extensive experience of aviation and travel, as well as deep knowledge of the UK regional aviation market, which will be extremely valuable to Flybe.”

Ourmieres-Widener said: “I look forward to working with the board and the entire team to continue Flybe’s progression to becoming a more customer-focussed business, aided by the greater control the airline now has over its future fleet size.

“As Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe is already in a strong position and I believe can deliver significantly more over the coming years.”