Europe’s biggest regional airline, which flies from airports including Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh and East Midlands, said UK sales were down 0.3 per cent on a year ago to £133.7 million in the final quarter of 2011.
The figure confirms last month’s warning that revenues would be significantly lower than it hoped, fuelling fears in the City for a full-year loss.
Shares plunged more than 20 per cent after the downgraded guidance but were 3 per cent higher today as investors were comforted by the absence of any more bad news.
It has reduced capacity by 6 per cent on January a year ago and said today it has seen passenger revenues per seat improve by 3 per cent as a result.
Scots-born chairman and chief executive Jim French said: “Although we expect market conditions to remain challenging, we have a robust and flexible business model and clear and achievable growth plans.
“We remain confident about Flybe’s long term future.”
Investec analyst Andrew Fitchie today stuck by his forecast that Flybe will make a loss of £8.5m in the year to 31 March, compared to pre-Christmas predictions of a profit of £6.4 million. And he anticipates further losses of £1.3m the following year.