Flybe returns to service; Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin all report increased demand

Flybe's new owners plan to be back in the sky within weeks.
Flybe's new owners plan to be back in the sky within weeks. Photo credit: Newshub (File)

After a long, bleak winter in lockdown, airlines in the United Kingdom are seeing more than just the light of longer days - they're also seeing the first glimpses of the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.

British budget airline easyJet said it expects most European countries to be open for British holidaymakers, while it's former competitor Flybe, which closed in early 2020, has announced it will relaunch under new ownership.

The former company's business and assets were sold to a new team backed by investor Cyrus Capital.

"We plan to launch a new and much improved Flybe sometime this summer on many of our former routes," a Flybe spokesperson said.

Flybe fell into insolvency at the beginning of the pandemic last March.

Meanwhile, on this side of the world, Qantas' kangaroo will be skipping with a little extra spring in its step today after an announcement confirmed things are on the up for Australia's national airline.

Domestic capacity is on track to beat estimates and reach 90 percent of pre-COVID levels in the final quarter of 2021, while its budget subsidiary Jetstar is on track to exceed 100 percent of pre-COVID capacity due to strong demand for leisure travel.

The knock on effect for this is also good news for employees, with all Qantas and Jetstar domestic crew now back at work.

Qantas said it will continue with its strategy of low fares to drive demand, and it remains committed to resumption of its international network from late October.

It's main competitor, Virgin Australia also announced on Thursday that ten of its Boeing 737 aircraft would return to its fleet from storage, as part of a plan to increase capacity to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Like Flybe, Virgin Australia struggled during the pandemic, but was rescued from voluntary administration by U.S. private equity group Bain Capital.