Flybe completed the sale of its airline to the Connect Airways consortium which includes Virgin Atlantic at the end of last week.
Virgin Atlantic, Southend Airport-owner Stobart Group and US hedge fund Cyrus Capital paid £2.8 million for the UK-based regional carrier, leaving Flybe Group as a shell company with no material assets.
However, Flybe shareholders have still to approve the sale of the group for £2.2 million, or just 1p per share, at a meeting scheduled on March 4.
Flybe has already drawn £15 million in working capital from the Connect Airways consortium, which is 30% owned by Virgin Atlantic, 30% by Stobart and 40% by Cyrus Capital.
The regional airline “will be rebranded to a Virgin Atlantic brand in due course” but will be run by Connect Airways which “will operate independently to Virgin Atlantic”.
In a statement, Flybe described the deal with Connect Airways as “the only viable option available to the company which provides the security the business needs to continue to trade successfully”.
Stobart Group’s Stobart Air, which operates as a Flybe franchise carrier, and aircraft-leasing firm Propius joined Connect Airways as part of the deal.
Flybe rejected an alternative proposal of £65 million from investors including US airline Mesa Airlines and a New York-based hedge fund last week amid attempts to disrupt the Connect Airways’ takeover by Flybe’s two largest investors.
Andrew Tinkler, former Stobart Group chief executive and Flybe’s second-largest shareholder, called Connect’s offer “an insult to the aviation industry”. Tinkler lost a High Court case against Stobart this month.
Flybe Group’s biggest shareholder, Hosking Partners, called the Connect Airways offer “cavalier”. It is seeking an investigation of the takeover process under a new Flybe chairman at the March 4 meeting.
Flybe has warned it will be wound up if the deal is not completed.
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