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“IAG to bid for Flybe” – could the press rumours be true?

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Following the news last week that Virgin Atlantic was in discussions with Flybe over a takeover bid, IAG – the owner of British Airways – is also now believed to have opened talks.

This is an interesting one.  Much of Flybe is what was previously known as BA Connect, the ex-British Airways regional network.  British Airways always struggled to make this work and was happy to sell it to Flybe in 2007.

Why would BA buy it back?

Will IAG buy Flybe?

it probably isn’t because of the Heathrow slots operated by Flybe, because these were taken away from British Airways when it bought BMI British Midland and BA cannot keep them (IIRC) if other airlines want them to operate specific domestic services

it is unlikely to be because of Flybe’s very modest Gatwick presence

as British Airways has no long haul departures from the regions – unlike Virgin Atlantic – it isn’t about ‘feed’

it isn’t because it would be a material aquisition – Flybe is tiny in IAG terms

it isn’t about rolling out the LEVEL short-haul brand because Flybe operates a different sort of business model to a different sort of customer base

it COULD be a way of beefing up the BA CityFlyer operation which runs the Embraer 190 fleet from London City Airport, although Flybe’s fleet is 75% Bombardier Dash 8 Q400

it COULD be a way of stopping Virgin Atlantic gaining additional UK market share, even if it means doing a deal IAG doesn’t want to do

it COULD be a cheap way of ensuring that Flybe remains within Avios, which would certainly end if Virgin Atlantic acquired the airline 

Of course, many of the arguments above also apply to Virgin Atlantic.  Its Little Red operation showed that it didn’t know how to make money on UK domestic flights, and that the Virgin brand itself was simply not enough.  Flybe cannot provide it with much ‘feed’ outside Manchester, and Virgin Atlantic already codeshares on those routes anyway – but perhaps Virgin has a lot to lose if those codeshares go?

Virgin, unlike BA, has no day-to-day experience operating smaller jets.  The Heathrow services cannot move to join Virgin in T3 because the terminal is not designed to segregate arriving domestic passengers.

There is a small bit of upside from stopping payments to Avios Group and using Virgin Flying Club as the loyalty currency, but this may be offset by some customers moving back to BA at London City. Is there value in protecting ‘feed’ to Virgin’s new shareholder Air France KLM?

Perhaps Stobart Group will win the day after all?


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

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