Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe has confirmed it is in talks with Virgin Atlantic about a potential takeover. The formal sale process was announced by the Exeter-based carrier earlier in the month as it attempts to shore up its balance sheet.
In a market statement, Virgin Atlantic confirmed that it is “reviewing its options in respect of Flybe which range from enhanced commercial arrangements to a possible offer for Flybe.” For its part, Flybe added there was no certainty at this stage that an offer would be made by Virgin.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the ownership of the Exeter-based airline, Flybe’s day to day operations are unaffected, with a number of new route developments unveiled in the past week. In addition to an additional service linking Edinburgh with London City, the carrier has also announced it is changing its thrice-daily service between London Gatwick and Newquay Cornwall Airport to Heathrow from March 31, 2019. The firm will serve the route using its current 78-seat Q400 aircraft, but will add a fourth daily rotation into Heathrow’s Terminal 2.
In response to the Newquay move, Roy Kinnear, Flybe’s chief commercial officer said he was “delighted” about the swap of London hubs. He added: “We look forward to this new service to London proving popular with its increased frequency and improved opportunities for inbound and outbound connectivity with many other parts of the world – and to welcoming many new passengers on board next year.”
Flybe’s current operation from Cornwall to the capital operates under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement. It is understood the PSO is due to be extended to this new route allowing Flybe to collect subsidies for the operation.
John Holland Kaye, CEO at Heathrow Airport added: “We are delighted to secure a more regular service to Newquay, connecting exporters from Cornwall to global markets through Heathrow and making it easier for inward investors, tourists and students from all over the world to get there.”