Flybe sold for £2.2m in cut-price deal

11 Janvier, 2019, 15:45 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • The takeover comes two months after the airline put itself up for sale

Connect Airways will also buy Stobart Group's regional airline and aircraft leasing business and combine the two acquired businesses.

The move ends months of speculation over the future of the airline which flies several key routes from the Isle of Man, including Manchester and Liverpool.

Flybe put itself up for sale after another profit warning in October, blaming a mix of currency volatility, rising fuel costs and Brexit uncertainty. In due course Flybe will be rebranded to Virgin Atlantic.

The group, known as Connect Airways, also includes Southend Airport owner Stobart Group and the USA private-equity firm Cyrus Capital Partners.

The deal will see Cyrus, Stobart group and Virgin Atlantic commit to make available a £20 million bridge loan to support Flybe's ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

Warwick Brady, boss of Southend Airport owner Stobart Group, advised by Barclays, said the takeover is an "excellent opportunity" to grow passenger numbers at the airport, and to "play an active role in United Kingdom regional flying".

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The group said it would "create a fully-fledged United Kingdom network carrier under the Virgin Atlantic brand" providing an opportunity for Virgin, which now focuses on long-haul, to expand in the UK.

Cyrus will own 40% of the new company, while Virgin and Stobart will take 30% apiece.

She said: "The industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit".

"We have been affected by all of these factors which have put pressure on short-term financial performance". At the same time, Flybe suffered from a number of legacy issues that are being addressed but are still adversely affecting cashflows.

Christine Ourmières-Widener, Flybe's chief executive, blamed the airline's woes on external factors, and said it would be better able to withstand difficulties as part of a larger group.

The suitors said they would "secure the long-term future of Flybe, to the benefit of local communities, customers and its people".

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