October 18, 2017 / 6:44 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Flybe warns on first-half profit, blames higher maintenance costs

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LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - British regional airline Flybe warned on Wednesday that first-half profit would be lower than expected, blaming higher costs related to aircraft maintenance.

The firm said it now expected a first-half adjusted profit before tax in the range of 5-10 million pounds ($6.6-$13.2 million), down from 15.9 million pounds in the first half of its 2016-17 year.

"While half-year profits are lower than expected, I am confident that we are still on a clear sustainable path to profitability in line with our stated plan," CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener said in a statement.

"The increased maintenance costs are disappointing, but we are already addressing these in the second half and remain focused on improving our cost base and reliability performance."

The hike in costs comes against a backdrop of intense competition in the sector that has put pressure on prices.

This year has been a tough one for the airline sector, with Air Berlin, Alitalia and Monarch all going into administration.

Flybe said it was launching a full review of the maintenance strategy which aims to deliver a significant improvement of aircraft performance and costs, and it would attempt to enhance the reliability the Bombardier Q400 turboprop in particular.

The airline said it would provide further information in its interim results on November 9.

$1 = 0.7586 pounds Reporting by James Davey and Alistair Smout; editing by Kate Holton

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