SHARES in airline Flybe nose-dived after bookings slowed “significantly” in September.
The carrier, which flies from airports including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh and East Midlands, said winter ticket sales were below expectations after the poor September performance.
Shares closed down 36.5p at 65p after the group said it was too early to say whether the slowdown was a short-term reaction to the economic gloom or “a long-term market adjustment”.
Sales in the six months to September were up by 9%, but this was 1% lower than expected.
The Exeter-based group’s latest statement follows a profit warning in May when it said trading had been hit by high oil prices.
Winter bookings were still 1% ahead of last year, despite the slowdown in September.
The airline reported that passenger numbers increased by 200,000 to 6.4m in the first half year, as it came up against weaker comparatives with the previous year when planes were grounded by the Icelandic ash cloud.
However, stripping out the impact of the ash cloud, passenger numbers fell by 1.7%.
Passenger revenues per seat increased by 6% and the group said flights from UK regions on European city business routes performed well.
Andrew Fitchie, an airline analyst at Investec, said he had slashed his full-year profit forecasts for the company from £20.1m to £6.4m.