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Flybe is now officially owned by Virgin Atlantic and its partners

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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.

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.

Comments (51)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Simon says:

    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

    • John says:

      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.

  • Chris says:

    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.

    • Chris L says:

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

    • Oli says:

      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

        • Ed says:

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

    • Andrew says:

      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.

  • nick says:

    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?

  • Jane Stevens says:

    Any Chance we can get a Manchester to Gatwick service.

  • Alex Sm says:

    A Guernsey flight will be a great option for me and my partner to move forward on our goal to visit all 11 European microstates and special territories. Jersey is done a long time ago while Guernsey was still pending…

  • Rich says:

    Can’t believe they are still using a dash 8 on this route. Air UK had jets on this rout in the 1980s.

    • Steve O'Hara says:

      Not really a need for a jet. Q400 an excellent and efficient aircraft. Plus Flybe are trying to get rid of most of their jets anyway.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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