StockMarketWire.com - Flybe confirmed Wednesday it was exploring a possible sale of the company after reporting that pre-tax profits more than halved in the first half of the year owing to headwinds from higher fuel and currency costs.

The company said that it was undertaking a comprehensive review of 'various strategic options'.

These included further capacity and cost saving measures and initiatives to strengthen the balance sheet, as well as a potential sale of the company through the commencement of a formal sale process.

For the six months to 30 September, pre-tax profits fell by 54% to £7.4m and revenues slipped by 2.4% to £419.2m.

Th company blamed the weaker results on external factors, citing the weaker value of sterling and higher fuel prices had driven up the cost per seat, which together with a softening of market growth, had affected profitability within the European short-haul aviation market.

Passenger revenue per seat grew 7.9% to £60.18 during the half and the load factor increased by 8% to 84.0% from a year earlier, owing to better utilisation of the fleet, the company said.

Seat capacity fell 9% as the company continued to execute on its strategy of reducing the fleet size and focusing on higher demand and profitable routes. 'In line with our strategy, we reduced seat capacity in the first half by 9.0% delivering a 7.2% increase in revenue per seat. Continued improvements are being seen into quarter three which demonstrates the popularity of Flybe for our customers,' said Christine Ourmières-Widener, Chief Executive Officer. 'We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business, especially further capacity reduction, cash management and cost savings. This is already starting to have a positive impact, as shown by the improved first half adjusted profit before tax; however, we must do more in the coming months. We remain confident in the vital role that Flybe plays in UK connectivity.'

At 9:18am: [LON:FLYB] FlyBe share price was +0.18p at 11.88p



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