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Flybe WILL return – airline sold by administrators to Cyrus Capital

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On Saturday, we reported on rumours that the administrators of collapsed UK regional airline Flybe were on the verge of selling the assets.

The deal was confirmed this morning. Cyrus Capital, a 40% shareholder in the ‘old’ Flybe and an experienced investor in the airline sector, has concluded a deal.

Flybe is coming back.

Flybe is coming back in 2021

A company controlled by Cyrus Capital, Thyme Opco, has bought Flybe’s ‘business and assets’. This includes the brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment.

You can be fairly sure that the ‘stock and equipment’ is minimal, meaning that this is really about paying for the brand.

There is no mention of whether’s Flybe’s operating licence is included. If it is, this would be a key driver for Cyrus to buy the brand, and would also help explain how it believes it can be back in the air within a few months.

In a statement, Cyrus Capital said:

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to relaunch Flybe.

“The airline is not only a well-known UK brand, it was also the largest regional air carrier in the EU, so while we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK, and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country’s economy.”

The Sky News report on Saturday said that ex-Flybe management were involved in the deal, but I haven’t been able to identify any particular individuals. I understand that some senior people were retained on the payroll by the administrators to make the prospects of a deal easier.

Is Virgin Atlantic involved?

Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, who were also shareholders in the airline when it collapsed, do not appear to be involved now.

This is likely to be good news, because there will not be three groups of competing shareholders, each with their own agenda.

With the ‘old’ Flybe, Virgin Atlantic was keen to organise the business so it provided feed to its long-haul operation, mainly at Manchester. Stobart Group wanted to boost London Southend airport, which it owned. Cyrus is likely to have wanted to do whatever was most profitable, irrespective of the others. It will now have an easier job.

Flybe will return as airline sold

Cyrus Capital has a lot to do ….

A brand name, even a well known one, isn’t a lot of use without any assets.

The Flybe aircraft fleet is now dispersed, returned to its lessors. I doubt that many of the aircraft will have found new homes, however, so it should not be difficult to secure new leases. They are likely to be on better terms than Flybe was paying.

Similarly, there are likely to be enough ex-Flybe pilots still looking for work to enable Cyrus to put together a new workforce relatively quickly.

The big question is over route networks. Loganair, Eastern, Air Lingus and Blue Islands have already picked off a lot of the ex-Flybe domestic routes.

The routes which have not been picked up are, in the main, those from UK regional airports into Europe. These are of less interest to Loganair, Eastern etc and this may be the focus of the new Flybe, albeit the opportunity will be limited until travel restrictions ease.

Cyrus says that it hopes to restart flights under the Flybe brand in “early 2021”. Let’s see …..

Comments (22)

  • sigma421 says:

    Is the AOC still live? Assuming it is otherwise an early 2021 restart would be ambitious

  • youngtraveller says:

    I assume Cardiff would want some routes back, I know whenever I was flying to Paris from Cardiff the flight was always full or almost full no matter the day of the week.

  • Aston100 says:

    Not sure if FlyBe had a particularly good reputation.
    Their hand luggage sizer discrepancies was always a sore point for many.

    On the otherhand, I had a strange dream recently where Birmingham rose from the ashes of Covid and Brexit to become THE powerhouse, with BHX and HS2 at the core.
    Funny if a renewed FlyBe presence at BHX kickstarts that vision.

    • Josh says:

      Nah… I prothesise Rotherham being the new British metropolis of the future. They didn’t build that massive Tesco Extra for nothing…

  • AJA says:

    Good luck to them! They plainly (should that be planely?) think that they can make a success of it. It’s good for the consumer to have another choice of airline but I am not sure starting again anytime soon, given the pandemic, is the best time to be doing this. Even “early 2021” sounds optimistic.

    • marcw says:

      + brexit

    • Chris L says:

      On the other hand, staff will be willing to return with lower salaries, aircraft leases will be cheap as chips, airport slots are plentiful…meanwhile train fares continue to rocket and motorways are getting congested again.

      If they can secure the funding and refrain from shooting themselves in the foot this time (i.e. don’t compete with Loganair in the Scottish islands, don’t screw up their IT, don’t lease aircraft that are too large and too expensive etc) I think a leaner, meaner Flybe could work. I think they might be better off not calling it Flybe though…

      • ChrisW says:

        I agree with all of this. In any disaster comes opportunity…

      • Isherwood says:

        I suggest they go with ‘Slyflea’ – small, agile and bounces from place to place. 😀

  • christopher nicholls says:

    At last the end of the pandemic dark tunnel is in sight. Weekends in Paris, romance and freedom. I wish Cyprus Capital all the luck in the world and when will shares be available for purchase.

    • ChrisW says:

      Just the small matter of the quarantine when returning from your weekend in France….

  • Anthony says:

    They need to acquire ATR 72 600 series aircraft

    • Aston100 says:

      They need to start with consistent / standardised hand luggage gauges at all airports they operate from.

      • Andrew says:

        Just sell me a Flybe branded carry-on for £50 that they guarantee will fit in their sizers…

  • the_real_a says:

    I would also imagine a decent amount of govt subsidy to certain regional airports to maintain airlinks, especially in the EU.

  • Neil says:

    It would be good to see them back – but hopefully minus the goons skulking up and down the gate queues picking off customers with the epos machines