Flybe bought by Virgin-led consortium

Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400

TravelWatch Isle of Man says the move ends "months of uncertainty" after the Exeter-based airline was bought by a consortium involving Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group for £2.2million.

The purchase will value Flybe's equity at just over £2m (€2.2m), with the buyers having pledged to plough as much as £100m (€111m) into the airline to keep it flying.

In due course, Flybe will be rebranded to Virgin Atlantic.

Stobart Group chief executive Warwick Brady said the acquisition of Flybe and the amalgamation of the airline into Connect Airways along with Stobart Air, would enable the businesses to compete effectively in a tougher market.

Connect Airways believes that combining Flybe and Stobart Air in a "more integrated commercial cooperation" with Virgin Atlantic's long-haul operations will create a "fully-fledged United Kingdom network carrier under the Virgin Atlantic brand, alongside Stobart Air's wet lease operations and aircraft leasing business, which will continue to operate as it does today".

Cyrus will own 40% of the new company, while Virgin and Stobart will take 30% apiece.

A rescue deal has been agreed for troubled airline Flybe by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic uses airports like Manchester, Heathrow and Gatwick and the current Flybe feeder routes will be very useful in getting passengers to connect easily with their long haul routes but perhaps less so for other airports around the country.

The venture, dubbed Connect Airways, also offered a £20m bridge loan facility and up to £80m of further funding to support the airline's growth.

Flybe, still one of the UK's best-known airlines despite its troubles, put itself up for sale back in November after a slump in first-half profits.

Flybe will continue to serve customers and communities across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Flybe CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener said: "By combining to form a larger, stronger, group, we will be better-placed to withstand these pressures".

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, added: "We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with Stobart Group and Cyrus to bring Virgin Atlantic service excellence to Flybe's customers".

"In the near future, this will only increase, through our expanded joint venture partnership with Air France-KLM".

Flybe has 78 planes operating from smaller airports including London City, Southampton and Norwich, and flies to destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe. "It will allow us to continue to work with Flybe and provides an excellent opportunity to continue to grow passenger numbers at London Southend airport".

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