Regional Carrier Flybe In Financial Trouble Again

News has emerged that UK regional airline Flybe is engaged in talks with the government to save itself from financial collapse. Sources say that Europe’s largest regional airline is working with the UK’s Department of Transport as well as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in hopes that government assistance can keep the struggling airline operating.

Flybe aircraft
Flybe will become Virgin Connect. Photo: Flybe

Public response

The tweet below is Flybe’s public response to rumors of financial difficulties:

Perhaps one of the best points made in response to this is one by Nathan Head, who said:

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Details and background

According to Sky News, accountancy firm EY (or Ernst & Young), was asked to be on standby should administration of Flybe Group be necessary. If these reports are true, they indicate the seriousness of the situation.

Flybe was bought out in February by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic, called Connect Airways. Also in the consortium are Stobart Group and financing firm Cyrus Capital Partners. Flybe is set to rebrand as Virgin Connect later this year. Cyrus Capital Partners owns a 40% share of Connect Airways, while the other partners Virgin and Stobart, each own 30%.

Flybe Q400
Flybe represents over 2,000 jobs. Photo: Jo Bailey/Simple Flying

£100m was allocated for Flybe’s turnaround plan. Recent moves have included:

However, insider sources have told Sky News that Connect’s proposed financing requirements had become more onerous, leading to financial uncertainty. Last week, Connect said it was examining potential redundancies. However, it insisted it was holding to its commitment to maintaining its base at Exeter.

Virgin Atlantic 747
Despite the upcoming name change, Virgin Atlantic is only a 30% shareholder in Flybe and its parent company Connect Airways. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Conclusion

If Flybe is unable to get the assistance it needs in the form of a rescue deal, then it’s possible it will have the same fate of other UK airlines like Monarch and Thomas Cook Group. The regional airline has a significant role in UK aviation, operating about 75 aircraft and serving more than 80 airports across the UK and Europe. In the UK alone, it has a significant presence at airports including Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton.

Should the airline collapse, roughly 2,000 jobs would be lost which would be a devastating blow to the UK economy.

What do you think needs to be done at Flybe to become profitable? Let us know in the comments!

We made attempts to reach out to Connect Airways, Flybe, and Virgin Atlantic. However, no responses were received at time of publishing. We will update this article if we hear back from any of these groups.

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Adam Simmons

A bit of hyperbole, perhaps? 2,000 job losses are awful for the people concerned but hardly ‘a devastating blow to the UK economy’ with over 30 million people employed or self-employed in the UK.

Zburătorul

They will easily find place in a warehouse

Jake C

I think that comment may be more aimed at the wider effect it will have on the UK with the airline connecting many regional economies with others in the UK and the capital. Without Flybe many local economies may struggle with limited transport connections/much slower rail connections. Add into this you’ve got airports such as Exeter who rely extremely heavily on Flybe’s operations, meaning we could see a number of airports also struggle to sustain themselves should Flybe fold.

Cahpek

Southampton Airport would also be greatly affected if Flybe is not there.

Southampton is the largest cruise port for UK cruises, and a lot of people fly the rest of the UK (and other parts of the world) fly into this airport to get on their cruise ships. The UK is also one of the largest cruise markets (probably the third largest?) in the world.

So, not having Flybe serving Southampton Airport would have a domino effect on cruises as well.

Damian Rice

The Dash8 planes may be cheaper to run but they are not very consumer friendly. Tiny luggage bins means if you are taking a connecting flight with another airline your cabin will fit on most other airlines but then has to go into the hold for the Flybe flight. This leads to problems at the gate when staff have to charge c£45. to put it in the hold. So, sort out your cabin baggage policy, use bigger planes, ditch the purple. Brand is boring. Virgin Connect should make it a bit more exciting.

Chuck

As per the article, Flybe was just bought out in February. Didn’t the consortium do a due diligence review upon purchase of Flybe??

Or is this a scheme by Stobart Air (part of the consortium) to cherry pick the landing slots held by Flybe upon its demise??

Richard

Massive loss of connectivity for the UK if they fold. Not everybody needs or wants to fly to or from London. Hand baggage policy not helpful and it’s a shame they didn’t retain the EMB jets as the dash 8s are noisy and cramped… Going to really impact the regions.