Flybe to take off again as new owners seek to relaunch UK regional airline this summer

Apr 15, 2021

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The regional U.K. carrier Flybe aims to resume flights this summer after a new company purchased the defunct airline’s assets. The deal to resuscitate the airline has reportedly been in the works for months.

A new company linked to investment adviser Cyrus Capital acquired the Flybe brand and all accompanying property this week. The Cyrus Capital-linked company was part of a group that included Virgin Atlantic and the owner of the Southend airport, Stobart Group, which tried to keep Flybe afloat in 2020 as the pandemic crippled the travel industry.

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When service resumes, the new name of the airline will be Flybe Limited. The new Flybe will be smaller than it was before, at least at the start. The company plans to resume flying many of its former routes, and it hopes the expected demand for travel as restrictions are lifted will help accelerate Flybe’s growth.

News of Flybe’s revival was hailed as a positive sign that travel is poised to rebound as the vaccination rollout moves on.

“The launch of a new Flybe will enhance regional connectivity across the U.K. and create new job opportunities within the airline industry,” said Simon Edel, joint administrator and EY-Parthenon turnaround and restructuring strategy partner. “Flybe stands to make an important contribution to local economies as they rebuild after the pandemic and as restrictions ease to allow an increase in air travel.”

A statement from a Flybe Limited representative called the announcement “a critical first step in our mission to accomplish the first-ever rescue of an insolvent British airline.”

Once the U.K.’s biggest regional airline, flying eight million passengers a year between airports in the U.K. and across Europe, Flybe was one of the first and biggest aviation victims of COVID-19. Despite government intervention to keep it flying, the carrier was forced into bankruptcy due to lost bookings. More than 2,000 jobs were lost in the collapse.

Since its collapse, other regional airlines in the U.K. have attempted to pick up where Flybe left off. Eastern Airways and Loganair, for example, have launched new routes during the pandemic in order to connect different regions of the country.

Related: Genius or daft? The 2 regional airlines expanding their route networks despite the pandemic

Eastern Airways said that its U.K. expansion was done to create a “network of Flybe franchise routes linking Teesside International Airport with the length and breadth of the U.K. and Ireland, including London and Dublin.” It’s also taken up launching routes from Southampton Airport, a former Flybe hub.

Featured photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images.

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