Virgin Atlantic Fleet To Triple After Flybe Deal

There was huge news in the aviation industry this week when it was revealed that both Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air could takeover Flybe. Now, Simple Flying has learnt that Virgin Atlantic’s fleet size will triple following a Flybe acquisition. The deal will see Flybe sold for £2.2 million, just 0.7% of the £300 million it was listed for. Despite the huge difference in price, Flybe has recommended that shareholders approve the deal. This was a move which caused shares in Flybe to fall by 90%. Virgin would then own a share of Flybe, in addition to Stobart Air and Cyrus. Connect Airways will be the name of the new undertaking.

Virgin Fleet
Virgin’s takeover of Flybe will be a route back into the regional market.

Tripple Fleet Size

Currently, Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul fleet comprises of 47 Boeing and Airbus aircraft. While made up of only widebody aircraft, this is a mix of aircraft from the A330, all the way up to the B747 and B787. Additionally, the 274th A350 is expected to be delivered to Virgin Atlantic, adding to the diversity of the airline’s fleet.

However, following the takeover of Flybe, the airlines’ fleet will become drastically more diverse. As it stands, Flybe operates a fleet of 78 regional aircraft. This mainly comprises ATRs, Bombardiers, and Embraers. As each of the aircraft will be repainted in Virgin’s red and white colour scheme, there will be a total of 125 Virgin Aircraft.

Virgin Fleet
Flybe’s fleet of smaller, turboprop aircraft will be repainted in the Virgin livery.

Second Attempt At Short Haul

Flybe won’t be Virgin’s first voyage into the short-haul market. In fact, Virgin’s previous failed attempt was called “Little Red”. Little Red was created in 2012 as Virgin attempted to connect domestic passengers to its long haul routes. Through four A320 wet-leased from Aer Lingus, Virgin operated flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.

While the airline was intended to provide competition to British Airways following the fall of BMI, it didn’t last long. In fact, just three years after it was founded, the subsidiary was wound down in September 2015. Virgin sold three Heathrow slots from the failed Little Red project to Flybe, so they will regain access to these in the purchase.

Virgin Fleet
Virgin previously operated domestic flights in the UK known as Little Red. Photo: Aero Icarus

Existing Partnerships

Virgin Atlantic already has partnerships in place with a number of airlines. While it is a member of EasyJet’s “Worldwide by EasyJet” program, the airline also had a partnership in place with Flybe. Simple Flying previously reported as the Virgin has a number of codeshares in place with Flybe, it is in the airline’s interest for the airline to stay afloat. Additionally, Virgin Atlantic has an existing trading relationship in place with Flybe.

What do you make of Virgin’s Flybe takeover? Are you excited to see regional aircraft in the Virgin livery? Let us know in the comments down below!

4 comments
  1. I think it is a great opportunity for Virgin to expand it’s business, however, I read that it wants to ensure that flights to the northern cities needs to be enhanced in order to expand business opportunities. If this is true maybe Virgin might begin to reinstate the flight between Gatwick & Newcastle ! It is absolutely ridiculous that you can fly to Newcastle from Southampton, Stanstead & London City but not from our second biggest and vital airport.
    I have written to the CEO’s of Gatwick and Newcastle Airports and both indicate that they are hopeful of some airline reinstating this route as it is essential !

  2. I’m extremely pleased and proud to see Virgin Atlantic growing and offering competition to BA. The consumer should have a choice and not one carrier should dominate the market.

  3. Although its not mentioned here, Virgin is 47% owned by Delta, which helps with revenues. Don’t know why the single isle Virgin Red collapsed because a similar Airline called Virgin Australia does very well. So they are not naive on the subject. Love to see BA get some competition. Looking forward to their new A350-1000’s, that is one great aircraft, or as I like to call it “Jewel of the Skies”!

  4. They got Flybe on the cheap. Not convinced that this will run long term, just look at Little Red. Not a particular fan of either Virgin or Branson who by the way owns the smallest shareholding in Virgin. Flybe were foolish not to look at the considerable better offer that was put on the table. A very bad management decision.

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