Stobart Group, operator of Southend airport and Stobart Air, has reported a loss in the first half of the year, taking a hit from the operation of a Flybe franchise.

The aviation portion of the group lost £2.7 million in the six months to 31 August, compared to a £3.6 million profit in the same period last year. Stobart says this includes £18.1 million relating to its UK franchise operation for Flybe.

Stobart had been in talks to purchase Flybe, but pulled its bid in March after the companies failed to agree a price. 

Business looks to be on the up at Southend airport, where passenger numbers increased 37 per cent to nearly 840,000. The airport has seen an influx of new routes this year, with Ryanair signing a five-year agreement that could provide an extra one million passengers in the first year and Easyjet adding a fourth aircraft to its Southend fleet.

The group also opened the Stobart Jet Centre this year and operates Stobart Air, which invested £18 million into its route development and marketing at Southend.

The group has twice had to push back the opening of Carlisle Lake District airport for commercial aviation, which is now set to launch in the spring of 2019.

As a whole, Stobart Group lost £17.5 million in the first half of the year. 

Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group, commented: “We have remained focused on operational progress in our aviation and energy divisions, which have both performed well in the period. Having invested in the infrastructure for these divisions, we are now well placed to accelerate our commercial growth plans and demonstrate the value of the group’s excellent operating businesses.”

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