* Sees total job losses 10 pt lower than planned
* Says working on cutting costs of fleet reduction
* Shares rise as much as 5 pct
By Karen Rebelo
Feb 3 British carrier Flybe Group Plc
reported a fall in third-quarter cost per seat in the UK and
said it would cut fewer jobs than planned, in a sign that its
turnaround plan was gathering pace.
The company, which also operates in Finland, has weathered a
turbulent 2013, marked by large job cuts, a new CEO, the
resignation of four board members, and the airline's biggest
shareholder dumping its entire stake.
Flybe, whose investors include British Airways owner IAG
and billionaire financier George Soros, has been
looking to cut costs by cutting jobs, giving up airport slots,
exiting unprofitable flight routes and grounding surplus fleet.
Flybe on Monday said it was working to lower the cost of
grounding some of its fleet.
"I see the turnaround plan being delivered as we speak now.
This is not a jam tomorrow type of plan that I put together,"
Chief Executive Saad Hammad said.
Hammad, an ex-easyJet executive who took the CEO
role in July, said he expected the airline to 'stabilise' within
Cost per seat, excluding fuel and restructuring costs, fell
5.2 percent in the company's UK airline business, while revenue
per seat rose 2.3 percent.
The airline reported total revenue of 142.9 million pounds
($234.85 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31.
"Part of Flybe's strategy to improve its commercial
performance is better revenue management, and there is clear
evidence of this being delivered," Liberum analyst Gerald Khoo
wrote in a note to clients.
"We are encouraged by the clear momentum in the turnaround."
The company said it now expects total job losses to be
around 450, 10 percent lower than it had planned.
Flybe, which will exit its slots at Gatwick airport in
March, plans to ground 10 aircraft by the end of that month and
a further four by the end of the summer.
The airline had estimated one-time charges of 14 million
pounds in the current year and a further 27 million pounds in
2014-15 for grounding aircraft, under its "Immediate Actions"
plan announced in November.
Shares in the company were up 2.6 percent at 108 pence at
1205 GMT on the London Stock Exchange on Monday.