Rising oil prices that have already wiped out two European airlines since September have claimed another victim: Britain’s biggest domestic carrier lost more than one-third of its value on Wednesday as an escalating fuel bill coincides with weaker demand.
Shares of Flybe Group Plc, also Europe’s biggest regional airline, dropped as much as 38 percent as the Exeter, England-based company said “softening” second-half sales would lead full-year profit to fall short of analysts’ estimates. The drop was the second-biggest since Flybe floated in 2010, with the stock’s price of 20.9 pence as of 9:16 a.m. more than 90 percent below its debut level.
Flybe has sought to carve out a model focused on secondary cities largely ignored by network and low-cost operators. While potentially valuable, it’s a market suited to smaller planes with lower operating margins, leaving the company particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in costs and demand.
Flybe has culled routes and dropped regional jets in favor of less thirsty turboprops after crude hit its highest levels in four years and airports operator Stobart Group Ltd. dropped plans for a takeover. Other carriers have already succumbed to the rising oil price, with Scandinavian leisure carrier Primera Air collapsing on Oct. 1 and German charter specialist Azur Air GmbH grounded. That’s after Air Berlin Plc and Monarch Airlines failed in 2017.
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