Flybe cautions Brexit vote could hurt aviation industry

(Reuters) - British regional airline Flybe Group Plc FLYB.L cautioned that the country's vote to leave the European Union could affect the aviation industry "operationally and commercially" and posed short-term challenges because of the pound's sharp slide.

Flybe, which connects British regional airports to London and other European cities, said adjusted pretax profit fell 25 percent to 15.9 million pounds in the six months ended Sept. 30, weighed down by a deterioration in the European travel environment.

“The aviation market is tough at the moment,” Executive Chairman Simon Laffin said in a statement on Wednesday.

The surprise departure of industry veteran Saad Hammad as CEO last month has left Flybe to seek new leadership even as European airlines face lower demand due to Brexit uncertainty, a string of attacks in Europe and depressed appetite for corporate travel.

At the same time, carriers, particularly low cost ones, have put more seats on to the market to try to take advantage of low fuel prices and gain market share.

Flybe's warning on trading conditions on Wednesday follows similar statements from larger European rivals, such as Ryanair RYA.I, easyJet EZJ.L, British Airways-owner IAG ICAG.L and Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE.

Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft