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Flybe is now officially owned by Virgin Atlantic and its partners – and is launching Heathrow to Guernsey!

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A day ahead of schedule, the sale of Flybe’s operating assets to a Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group consortium completed on Thursday evening.

Flybe Group plc is now a shell company with no trading businesses.

This was despite last minute interest from a Mesa Air, an Arizona-based commuter airline, which had proposed an alternative deal in conjunction with two investment funds, Bateleur Capital and Avenue Capital.

The Mesa Air proposal was contingent on the Virgin Atlantic sale plans being postponed.  Flybe rejected the proposal on the grounds that it had a legally binding deal to sell its operating subsidiaries which could not be broken, and that it had already drawn £15m of the £20m credit facility provided by the Virgin-led consortium.

Flybe scheme document

What next for Flybe?

With the sale completed, the new owners – who are working through a company called Connect Airways – can move on with their plans.

These were outlined in the offer document for Flybe:

“simplifying and focusing on improving the performance of Flybe Limited’s core network whilst recognising the importance of regional connectivity;

adjusting Flybe Limited’s network to improve connectivity with Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network, particularly at London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, bringing more choice to customers; and

operating the Combined Group as an independent company, and optimising the combined commercial, operational and functional expertise and scale of Virgin Atlantic and the Stobart Group.”

The business will be rebranded under a Virgin brand, but not necessarily Virgin Atlantic.  Virgin Connect seems a possible bet although these days much depends on what internet domain you can acquire.

Flybe launches Heathrow to Guernsey

The first new move – launching Heathrow to Guernsey!

In surprise news earlier on Thursday, Flybe announced a daily flight between Guernsey and Heathrow this Summer.

This service is being underwritten by the State of Guernsey to the tune of £800,000.  It is using the slot pair that Virgin had leased to now-bankrupt Cobalt Air for a Larnaca service.

The services starts on 31st March and will operate until the end of the Summer season in late October.

The times are a bit odd, to be honest, but match the old Cobalt service:

  • Depart Heathrow 5.20pm, arrive Guernsey 6.25pm
  • Depart Guernsey 2.40pm, arrive Heathrow 3.45pm

It is presumably using Terminal 2 as only T2 and T5 can handle domestic arrivals.  Flybe will use a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft with 78 seats.

There is a special page on Guernsey on the Flybe website which you can find here.  Local airline Blue Islands operates as a Flybe franchise partner which is why there are so many existing routes, although the new service is ‘mainline’ Flybe.

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Comments

  1. the LHR slot VS took from Cobalt Air which went bust last year

  2. Be nice to earn some flying club miles on short haul flights moving forward. Virgin are really going to be ramping it up in terms of their FF programme with AF/KL and now flybe.

  3. Really hoping that there will be a Jersey -Heathrow as well
    Jersey Ports have been talking about this possibility before the Flybe takeover was announced

  4. Lawrence says:

    Apologies for off topic. I have an Amex BA Premium Card and recently secured the companion voucher having spent £10,000. I’ve downgraded to the free version and planned to move my spending to my Amex Gold card. However the downgraded BA card statement shows I can obtain another companion voucher by spending just £10,000 within the same year. I thought I’d have to start afresh and spend £20,000. Which is correct? If it is the case, instead of concentrating on my Amex Gold I’ll stick with the Amex BA free card, at least for this year. I don’t want to do that however unless I’m certain I will get another companion voucher for £10,000. Can anyone advise please?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You won’t get another voucher it’s just AMEX it.

      Why keep the card? Cancel and take out the BAPP in 6 months. Your voucher is perfectly fine without a BA card and you can pay the taxes/fees with any Amex

      • Just to double check on this as I’m about to trigger the BAPP 241 voucher with 4 months to spare…. if I cancel the card (still have 2 other free AmEx) or downgrade to BA blue, I wouldn’t lose the 241 voucher? Even if AmEx pro rata refund the BAPP fee? Seems generous if they refund fee so don’t get the full £195.

        Curious… thanks.

        • Lawrence says:

          When I phoned to close the BA Premier card I was told I would keep the companion voucher but I must pay the taxes when I make a flight booking using an Amex BA card, hence I should downgrade to the Blue instead.

        • You won’t lose the voucher but you do need to pay the TF&Cs with an Amex card, any Amex, and not even in your name.

        • You won’t lose the voucher – longstanding setup for years now.

        • Shoestring says:

          You won’t get the Amex fee for BAPP refunded pro rata

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Harry, BAPP fee is still pro rata refund.

        • Shoestring says:

          oh right

        • Jeff de B says:

          The BA Amex 241 voucher terms and conditions (points 18 + 31) say that you must use THE card to pay the taxes and fees and also that you “must remain eligible for this promotion at the time of travel”. The latter could theoretically mean the free BA Amex, but if you do that you can’t get the welcome bonus again. Comments seem to suggest that neither of these T&Cs is currently enforced, but that might change quite soon…

        • What makes you think that will change quite soon?

  5. Be surprised if they used Virgin Connect given there is already a Virgin group company using the same name. They run broadband services in Russia apparently.

  6. Memesweeper says:

    Guernsey is only semi-domestic — you do need to pass through customs even though you don’t need to pass through passport control. Is any part of Heathrow geared up for this? I used to be a regular on the Gatwick Flybe service and when that landed it was treated as international, and if you kept your boarding pass you could bypass passport control through a side corridor.

  7. If they went with Virgin Connect I would worrry what Google might throw out when you tried to search for it.

    • Thanks for the morning chuckles – Given the names we have seen coming out from travel companies recently (BONVoY and Accor Live Limitless) it wouldn’t surprise me.

  8. As someone from Guernsey and used to travel this route many years ago it is a welcome addition.
    Pity they aren’t using one of their Jets😩
    Does anyone know if there is a way of getting avios/virgin miles/MR points into the Air France programme?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Flying blue is a MR redemption option

      Avios and virgin no not without losing serious value.

      • Shoestring says:

        You might not want/ need to move Virgin miles—>Flying Blue soon in any case, possibly you’ll be able to redeem Virgin miles for FB routes

        • The flights are in April so can’t wait too much longer, better get setting up a flying blue account…..

      • Thanks TGLoyalty

        Have set up a flying blue account and transferred some points for the flights😄

  9. Are they going to run empty positioning flights or will the aircraft wrap revenue flights from/to another base around these?

    • Shoestring says:

      it’ll become clear, everybody else is wondering the same thing – it’s no big deal to fly an empty plane to (say) Newquay, though

    • I think the plane must already be in Guernsey otherwise it would be a LHR round-trip instead. It’s not like there is a huge Guernesiais market for doing a Heathrow b2b??

    • Thomas Martin says:

      Aircraft is coming in a new LHR-EDI rotation which was released at the same time.

  10. There’s lots of reports that Flybe have implemented a zero tolerance policy on hand baggage allowance and are charging £50 at the gate for oversized hand luggage (some reports of even 1cm too big being charged). Flybe hand luggage dimensions are amongst the smallest around so they are going to have to increase this if they are wanting a consistent product with virgin.

    • Problem is anything larger won’t fit into the Dash 8 overhead bins!

    • Yes I experienced this on Wednesday at Southend airport. It was the very first time that they checked hand luggages at the boarding gate and I flow with them a dozen times in the past year.

      • Shoestring says:

        I think they just instructed gate agents to enforce the existing policy in order to raise cash at a difficult time

        • Can add a +1 to this. In Edinburgh yesterday they were very keenly handing out £50 per case bills

    • I’ll do a parallel Bits with this then…

      I’m flying Delta to Boston when they launch from EDI later this spring. I’m flying hand luggage only for the rather lovely fare of £298. Now, I’ve got a bag that’s compliant with their rather tight 56x35x23 hand luggage limit. Completely confused by their “personal item” sizing though. I’ve seen the size of a colleague’s “diaper bag” – it’s huge!

      Any tips on what Delta consider reasonable for a personal item? Is it going to be the case that as long as it squishes under the seat in front it will be fine? Or do they get really petty with measurements? I’m thinking a 30-35 l rucsac.

  11. OT:
    Anyone know if Virgin Atlantic gift card vouchers can be used to pay for the taxes/fee’s on a reward redemption flight? (assuming the booking is done online or over the phone?)

    Likewise, can BA gift vouchers/ gift cards be used to pay taxes/fees on an Avios Reward flight? again either online or when booking by phone?

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