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Flybe joins forces to continue flying

Flybe joins forces to continue flying

Friday 11 January 2019

Flybe joins forces to continue flying


Three major shareholders are setting up a new aviation group to help bail Flybe out of its financial troubles and run the airline going forwards.

Guernsey-registered Stobart Group will be one of those three, alongside Virgin Atlantic and Flybe itself.

The UK regional airline is close to being taken over by this new consortium in a deal that is expected to leave it at a value of £20m.

Virgin Atlantic will be the main shareholder, but Flybe and Stobart Air, a part of the Stobart Group, will be included. The deal's value is expected to be worth significantly less than the company's stock price when it last closed on the Markets. 

Flybe_virgin_takeover.jpg

Pictured: Virgin initially expressed interest in Flybe in November.

Two months ago, Flybe put itself up for sale as it continued to struggle with Brexit uncertainty, rising fuel prices and general difficulties in the aviation sector, but it is still one of the largest and best recognised regional airlines in the UK. Amid challenging financial circumstances, Flybe and Virgin entered into talks in November.

Under this new deal, Virgin will operate the Flybe's network of flights using both Flybe itself and Stobart Air as carriers. 

Stobart Air, a subsidiary of the Stobart Group, is registered in Guernsey. The company has shareholder meetings in the island and most recently a court case battle between the bosses of the group and its Chief Executive took place in the island. When that court case kicked off Stobart abandoned plans to buy Flybe at the time. 

Blue Islands Flybe

Pictured: Flybe and Blue Islands currently operate a franchise agreement. Previously, Blue Islands have said they will not be affected by any sale of Flybe, but whether the new consortium will affect that remains unknown. 

As far as what the three groups will be getting from the consortium, Stobart is expected to just contribute assets to the body rather than any money. Virgin Atlantic will get access to all of Flybe's short haul routes as connections for its long-haul flights, as well as access to the valuable slots of Heathrow which are reserved for domestic routes.

While Flybe is now based in Exeter, it has always maintained a strong connection to the Channel Islands, having originated in Jersey. Whether the new agreement will affect flights to the Channel Islands is yet to be seen.

Ports of Jersey have since described the news as "positive", but say it's too early to speculate on the knock-on effect for the Channel Islands, as negotiations are still in the "early stages".

A spokesperson said: "Ports of Jersey has yet to have any formal discussion with the airlines and businesses involved and would not expect to have, given the fact that the proposal has yet to be approved by the Flybe shareholders and financial markets.

"In the meantime, Ports of Jersey will continue to support Flybe, with whom we have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with for many years. We wait with interest as this process unfolds and our Route Development team will be happy to have discussions with any new owners at the appropriate time.”

Flybe franchise partner Blue Islands, meanwhile, commented: "Blue Islands remains fully committed to serving the Channel Islands and customers can continue to book all Blue Islands operated services at flybe.com. We look forward to working with the new Combined Group."

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Posted by John Henwood on
This is bound to raise new concerns about the Jersey/Guernsey service which has diminished significantly in frequency and increased alarmingly in price since CICRA allowed FlyBe and Blue Islands to code share instead of letting the market find its own solution. And remember, CICRA intervened in the British Airways/Iberia merger, so goodness knows how it will react to this news.
Posted by June Summers Shaw on
I know nothing about the two parties who are now involved but let's hope that this results in an improvement in the reliability, pricing and general practices of Flybe. We have been held over a barrel for too long on some routes and have had to put up with their shoddy service.
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