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Flybe loses lucrative Heathrow slots

Flybe loses lucrative Heathrow slots

Tuesday 08 June 2021

Flybe loses lucrative Heathrow slots

Tuesday 08 June 2021

Resurrected airline Flybe has lost its lucrative slots at Heathrow after the carrier’s old operating licence was officially revoked.

It is not known if losing these slots – reported to be worth £10m – will affect plans by the airline’s new owner to return it to the skies.

Last week, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps backed a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to withdraw the licence that the airline flew under before it collapsed into administration. 

According to media reports, had Mr Shapps not supported the CAA, Flybe’s new owner – a company controlled by hedge fund Cyrus Capital – would have been free to sell the seven pairs of slots to the highest bidder, which before the pandemic were being traded for more than £50m each.

The Telegraph reported this week that the new incarnation of the airline, formerly called Thyme Opco and now called Flybe Limited, had been awarded separate but less valuable slots at Manchester and Birmingham airports.

The Heathrow slots have been given to British Airways.

A spokesman for EY, which handled Flybe’s administration, told the paper: “The decision will not impact the wider administration or the sale of the company’s business or assets to the purchaser, Flybe Limited, formerly known as Thyme Opco Limited. 

“The new entity, Flybe Limited, is independently and separately licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority, and will continue to hold a valid and active licence.”

However, lawyers for EY reportedly told the CAA in February, when the regulator decided to revoke Flybe’s licence, that the slots were essential to the business. 

Flybe, which was founded as Jersey European Airways in 1979, collapsed in March 2020, an early casualty of the pandemic.

The brand, intellectual property and equipment was purchased by Cyrus Capital last October. The hedge fund had owned 40% of the airline before its collapse, which led to more that 2,000 aircrew and ground staff losing their jobs.

Cyrus Capital, however, did not buy Flybe’s planes, which have been finding new homes since the collapse.

One has recently been converted into a ‘water bomber’ to help tackle wildfires.  

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