Flybe have reinstated their daily Newcastle to Exeter route, re-connecting a business route to the South West which had been feared lost.
The airline had cut the link earlier this year as part of a major cost-cutting exercise designed to return the regional operator to profit.
Flybe’s chief commercial officer Paul Simmons said a great relationship with Newcastle Airport’s management team had helped to reinstate the route which Flybe recognised as important to the North East business community.
He admitted the closure of the service was perhaps a step too far amid the extensive restructuring of the airline, but underlined Flybe’s commitment to the region.
He also told the Journal that Flybe had not ruled out the creation of other routes from Newcastle. While he said there were no plans to revive the relinquished Newcastle to Gatwick service, he did not rule out a future service.
Mr Simmons said: “A direct link to the South West is great news for North East businesses, who had always supported the route - along with our leisure customers. Devon and Cornwall are great destinations for North East tourists and we’re delighted to put a link back in place for them.
“We’ve been treated very well by the region and the airport. When you undertake a major cost cutting exercise as we did, sometimes things can get caught up in that - and the Newcastle to Exeter route was probably an example of that.”
He added: “The team at Newcastle Airport have been extremely helpful and while nothing is yet confirmed, we are currently looking at the potential for other routes in the future.”
Flybe also operates UK services to Belfast City and Southampton from Newcastle.
Chris Sanders, aviation development director at Newcastle International Airport, said: “We’re delighted that Flybe has reintroduced the Exeter service from Newcastle. The route is important for both leisure and business passengers wishing to visit the South West as well as the city of Exeter itself.
“The South West is home to stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and cultural attractions. Within easy reach you have the Jurassic coastline, Dartmoor, Exmoor, the South and North Devon coasts as well as the whole of Cornwall. There is plenty to do year round and flying there is now so easy.”
Flybe pulled the Newcastle-Exeter route in March this year, following the announcement of major restructuring at the firm to curtail four years of losses.
In early 2013 the airline shed 300 jobs as part of the strategy to return itself to profitability, led by former easyJet chief commercial officer Saad Hammad.
A return to pre-tax profits of £8.1m was reported in June this year, compared with losses of £41.1m in the year previously.
Exeter-headquartered Flybe operates 187 routes serving 17 countries from 84 departure points.