FLYBE has seen profits more than halve after the airline’s bottom line was hit by an onerous IT contract, higher aircraft maintenance costs and the collapse in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote, while insisting Scotland remains a core part of its network.

The regional carrier, which now operates flights across Scotland with Eastern Airways after its deal with Loganair came to a close, reported an underlying profit of £8.4 million before tax for the six months to September 30. The Exeter-based firm had made £15.9m over the same period last year.

Profits dipped as total costs soared to £410.1m, which excluded the effect of the revaluation of aircraft loans denominated in US dollars.

However, chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener, who joined Flybe in January, declared the company had made “good progress in the first half”. She noted its fleet size was “under control” while key measures such as passenger yield and load factor were improving.

The company said yield rose three per cent to £72.73 in the first half, with load factor climbing by four per cent to 76 per cent. That came as passenger volumes increased by 8.8 per cent to 5.2 million, which helped lift total revenue by 9.3 per cent to £418.5 million.

Ms Ourmieres-Widener said: “While half-year profits are lower than last year, due to the one-off IT contract costs, higher maintenance expenses and the impact of the fall in the value of sterling, I am confident that we are on a clear path to sustainable profitability through the investments and improvements we are making at Flybe.

“In the second half, we will focus on improving our cost base and reliability performance while preparing the business for the future as we invest in the new digital platform. As the business model changes, I am particularly pleased to have a new senior management team with ever more aviation experience.”

Flybe has faced competition on the routes it operates around Scotland from Loganair, its previous partner which since September has been servicing 40 routes around the Scottish Highlands and Islands as an independent airline. The rivalry has led to competitive prices for travellers on some routes.

Asked how the partnership with Eastern was performing so far, a spokesman for Flybe said the Scottish operation was going well but said specific numbers on its performance were not available. He also pointed to the introduction of new routes to Heathrow from Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The company said in a statement that Scotland “remains a core part of our network”, declaring that it is “further strengthening our connectivity” in and around the country.

Flybe added: “The new Heathrow routes continue to perform in line or ahead of our expectations, and our turboprop aircraft are now an established part of Heathrow’s operations.

On fleet size, the company said it plans to reduce aircraft numbers to around 70 over the next three years as it moves to a “demand-driven rather than capacity-led” model.