Flybe’s New Management Starts Fresh Review Targeting Profits

Flybe Group Plc, Europe’s largest independent regional airline, said new Chief Executive Officer Saad Hammad is reviewing the carrier’s operations as it seeks to reduce costs and boost cash.

The airline will report “in due course on the future strategic development and direction of the business,” the Exeter, England-based company said today in a statement. Flybe said revenue for the year ending March 2014 will be similar to sales last year of 781.5 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

Flybe shares gained as much as 7 percent, the most in a month, and traded 0.4 percent higher at 61 pence at 8:58 a.m. in London. The stock has gained 20 percent this year.

The review follows a management shake-up that saw Hammad take over from outgoing CEO Jim French, who became non-executive chairman, and Paul Simmons appointed as chief commercial officer on Aug. 5. Hammad and Simmons previously worked at discount carrier EasyJet Plc and are targeting 40 million pounds of cost savings in fiscal year 2014. Flybe is also seeking a new chief financial officer after announcing the departure of Andrew Knuckey on Aug 5.

Britain’s biggest domestic airline is seeking to bolster its balance sheet amid reduced demand and high fuel prices. The company sold landing slots at London Gatwick airport to EasyJet for 20 million pounds, is renegotiating pilot pay, and has delayed deliveries of regional jets from Embraer SA.

First-quarter revenue for the three months through June climbed 0.7 percent to 164.2 million pounds. The airline flew 2.1 million people in the period, 3.4 percent more than a year earlier. Total revenue under management, which includes sales from the airline’s joint venture with Finnair OYJ, climbed almost 19 percent to 229 million pounds in the quarter.