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And the new Flybe brand will be ….

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Flybe has just announced its new brand, following its takeover by a Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air consortium.

And it is ….

Virgin Connect.

This was my guess, and indeed much of the industry (the new holding company is called Connect Airways, after all).  What I didn’t know is that there was a Russian mobile operator using this brand so it took a lot work to get hold of it!

I am the only media representative at the Flybe leadership conference in Exeter today where the new brand was announced. 

I am not allowed to report much of what is being discussed, for obvious reasons, but the new CEO Mark Anderson, who comes from Virgin Atlantic, has a sound plan for driving the company forward – and it is certainly not ‘pie in the sky’.  There will also be a new loyalty scheme which will integrate with Virgin Flying Club, although the details of that have not yet been announced.

You will not see the new brand in action for a while.  The new owners, sensibly, want to ensure that the business is fully on the right track.

When people see the Virgin brand they come with expectations and Flybe knows that it is not yet ready to meet them – but it should be soon.  We are talking about punctuality (already much improved), aircraft cleanliness, clearer baggage rules, a loyalty programme etc, albeit it all within the confines of what can be done on a 78-seat Dash 8.

When the roll out starts, the last place you will see the new brand is on the outside of an aircraft.  Painting aircraft takes time and reduces capacity, so you will see a new website, new signage etc before you see a red aircraft.  Change is a coming though ….

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Comments (102)

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  • Oh! Matron! says:

    Would Flybe be a good candidate for the A220? I realise VS are likely to sweat the ATRs for a while, but it would be a good synergy. I see Luxair, airBaltic, etc all looking….

  • Jon says:

    So, with Connect in the name, they must be targeting the domestic connections market, to connect with Virgin long-haul. So they need to make this work financially, where Little Red didn’t. But I struggle to see how the Dash8 fleet will be attractive. I took one edi-lhr and it took so long, I’ve gone back to BA domestic, even when connecting to VS long haul.

    • Rhys says:

      No reason why ‘Connect’ means only domestic connections…..

    • Bigglesgirl says:

      On the basis they’re pulling shed loads of services from BHX and other minor airports “Connect” clearly does not mean connecting anywhere. I sincerely hope this route removal is temporary otherwise I will no choice of going anywhere from my local airport.

      • Rob says:

        Leaving the planes parked up for a few months is more sensible than flying them on loss-making routes.

        Lots of interesting insights today. There was an EU261 comment which interested me. Many people think that filling planes at marginal cost (let’s say £5 + taxes) is worth it, because you get the potential for ancilliary revenue on top and it is better than getting nothing. However, EU261 turns these calculations on their head. An empty seat will not be claiming a few hundred Euro if the plane gets delayed or cancelled.

  • Alex says:

    For me, the number one thing that BA has above Virgin is their European network. But VS can’t currently compete, especially from LHR, for lack of slots. If/when Virgin Connect can start emulating that, BA will have to become competitive again.

  • Little Pansey says:

    Use Virgin points?

  • BJ says:

    I think they would have been better rebranding Virgin Atlantic as Virgin Connect and simply calling this one Virgin. Let’s be honest, Virgin Atlantic is almost a non-airlihe, little use for anything these days except flights to the USA and transferring miles to Hilton.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      if their only use is crossing the Atlantic isn’t Virgin Atlantic the perfect name?

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Well yes, if you don’t want or need to cross the atlantic then Virgin ATLANTIC (clue is in the name) is probably not the right airline for you. 😀 :D.

  • TripRep says:

    Be interesting to see connections to Manchester from the Highlands using miles redeeming on a single ticket.

    Maybe we will finally hear something before Xmas?

    • BJ says:

      I tried to get a through redemption on CX using avios a few times without success so hopefully FC can do better. You might get even luckier with FC miles on KLM but I am not optimistic value will be good.

      • Lady London says:

        I think the reason is that even if you are using avios, the operating airline must ‘publish’ the route you are flying.i.e. adknowledge it as a route, and attach things to it that make it bookable.

        I remember having this problem whilst trying to use up some final miles of the small stash I got from BD (I came far, far too late to this hobby!)… Someone in BD explained that my chosen route from somewhere like Nice to Portland, had not been “published” by the airline and so even though the segments were there and available, as the airline flying the first segment had not “published” a fare for that route then it coiuldn’t be ticketed.

        Perhaps someone on here may know more about this but it sounds why you couldn’t get a through ticketing for your routing including domestic on Cathay on one ticket?

  • marcw says:

    What are the chances of Virgin Connect to success, besides from some little feeding? I can’t see them building a massive European network. Most interesting slots have been taken already. They are going to have pretty strong low cost competition (even more than now). And finally, KLM does connect pretty much the whole UK with world destinations via their super efficient AMS hub – so what’s the real value behind it? Shouldn’t they focus on making Virgin Atlantic a valuable an interesting player in LHR (and not just UK-USA Delta shuttle?)

    • Rob says:

      70% of Flybe routes have no competition. They are monopolies – however, just because you have a monopoly on, say, Exeter to Dusseldorf doesn’t mean you can fill a 78 seat plane once a day ….

      • Stu N says:

        From Edinburgh, they have no head-to-head competition on most of their routes – Birmingham, East Midlands and Manchester will be up against rail. Exeter, Southampton and Newquay have no realistic completion unless you want to spend 8-10 hours on a train. Belfast City and Cardiff are up against Easyjet to Belfast Intl and Bristol respectively. They have a niche, just not exactly a profitable one.

        Heathrow and City compete with BA; Heathrow is possibly slot-sitting, they would need jets to properly compete and for City they compete with BA on price. The Q400 props are bumpy, noisy planes – the Q must be a reference to outside noise, not cabin noise – but they are cheap to buy and run. The A220 could be a fit for Heathrow – indeed it’s almost a necessity for connecting traffic.

        The other problem is that if Flybe can grow a route to a decent scale, Easyjet or Ryanair will swoop in and eat FlyBe’s lunch. There’s not much they can do about that without bigger planes, again which is where the A220 could come in.

        Will be interesting to see how this plays out – personally I’m hoping for a BA Gold => VS Gold status match, that would be nice!

      • Marcw says:

        Regional routes (outside London) are not profitable anywhere in Europe. There’s either too much train competition or there’s not enough demand to sustain a profitable route.

  • Simon says:

    Appreciate there are limits on what you can report today but it would be interesting to have a background article in the next few weeks on their plans (to the limits their press team will let you). e.g. given slot constraints in LHR will they focus growth on LGW, MAN and AMS/CDG to feed DL/VS (and AF/KL) long-haul? Or do they plan to be point-to-point and if connections are possible then they’re a bonus? What are their plans around non DL/VS/sky team codeshares (both taking others’ flight numbers and putting theirs on others’)? Any plans for the cabin/classes?

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