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Bits: Flybe to be sold?, Italian holiday airline running BA Gatwick services, BA’s cost base

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News in brief:

Flybe to be sold?

Flybe‘s share price jumped on Friday after Stobart Group announced that it was considering a bid for the company.

Flybe – which uses Avios as its reward currency – has been struggling in recent years, despite carrying 8m passengers per annum and operating more UK domestic flights than any other airline.

The share price was 295p at the time of the 2010 IPO but has since lost 85% of its value and now has a market cap of just £100m.  British Airways, which acquired a stake in the company as part-payment for the BA Connect regional operation, sold down its shares a number of years ago.  The company was arguably a dead duck from the point in 2014 when it was forced to sell its Gatwick slots to easyJet in order to raise cash.

Stobart Group already operates Flybe flights under a franchise deal from the Isle of Man and London Southend, which it owns.  It is also likely to use the brand for services from Carlisle Lake District airport which Stobart to about to re-open to passenger flights.

Under Stock Exchange rules, Stobart Group has until 22nd March to make a formal takeover offer.

Stobart Group to buy Flybe

Italian holiday airline joins the list of BA’s standby carriers

British Airways is continuing to pick up aircraft wherever and however it can – within the EU rules – to fill the slots at London Gatwick which it recently acquired from the administrators of Monarch.

BA has now signed a deal with Italian holiday airline NEOS – which to be honest I’d never heard of – to supply “a small number” of aircraft to run flights from Gatwick this Summer.

If you find yourself booked on a NEOS plane, you will now receive free food and drink in Economy.  Seat reservation fees will be refunded.  If you do not want to fly with NEOS, you can ask to be moved to a BA-operated flight within three days of the date of your booked service, or receive a full refund of your ticket price.

There will be no Club Europe service on the NEOS aircraft.

NEOS flying from British Airways from Gatwick

BA’s cost-cutting literally comes to nothing …..

(EDIT: the CASK numbers below have been corrected due to a transposing error.)

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, published its 2017 results on Friday.

The share price fell sharply (5.7%) after the numbers were released.  I have no intention of going through them in detail but you can see the slide presentation here as a PDF.

The most astonishing number is on page 14 – CASK exc fuel for BA.  CASK is ‘costs per available seat kilometre’.

As we know from various BA management pronouncements over the last 18 months, the airline is now 100% focused on cost reduction.  Every British Airways employee, every day, is permanently focused on cutting expenditure.

Vueling cut its CASK by 0.9%.  Aer Lingus cut CASK by an impressive 6.4%.  Iberia couldn’t control costs so well and its CASK went up by 4.8%.

And British Airways?  CASK rose by a whopping 5.4%.  Remember that this excludes fuel, which the airline cannot control.  Heaven knows what would have happened if all BA employees were not 100% focused on cost cutting …..

It is also worth pointing out something interesting on Slide 27.  BA’s ‘Plan4’, which is the catch-all phrase for the various customer-facing changes being made, is listed as a key cost reduction activity.  Not, note, as an ‘investment’.  Whilst the company may be claiming that it is ‘investing’ £400m / £600m or whatever the number is this week in Club World, it is telling the City that this is actually a cost-cutting programme.

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Comments

  1. OT: Is there any update on the Virgin Money Virgin Atlantic credit cards? From what Rob said in January I was expecting them some point this month, but it doesn’t seem like that will be the case.

  2. The CASK values for IB and EI are swapped, it was EI who decreased cost. Also the data are from the line which includes fuel cost.

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