Connect Airways’ acquisition of Flybe, Stobart Air and Propius has been formally approved by The European Commission.

The fledgling regional airline, made up from a consortium of Virgin Atlantic, Southend Airport-owner Stobart Group and US hedge fund Cyrus Capital, has received merger control clearance following the agreement of the £2.8 million deal in March.

Work is underway to develop “an exciting new brand and customer proposition”, which will be announced at a later date.

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The approval means chief executive-in-waiting Mark Anderson, Virgin Group’s executive vice president, can formally assume the role.

He said: “On behalf of Connect Airways, I couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity we have to build a strong platform in the UK and to grow our franchise flying operation in Ireland. Our whole team is focused on redefining the experience for our customers, as we rediscover the excitement and passion of being Europe’s largest regional airline.”

Lucien Farrell, chairman of Connect Airways, said: “Today is an important day as Connect Airways takes full control of Flybe, bringing the team together with Stobart Air. Under Mark’s leadership, the company has the opportunity to create a world-class offering for customers, combining a highly successful franchise flying business with Europe’s largest regional airline. I wish Mark and the team every success.”

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, added: “Mark and his team at Connect Airways have an amazing opportunity ahead of them. At Virgin Atlantic we recognise the value of great partnerships, and the network and connectivity benefits they offer customers. I’m excited to build on the successful partnership Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed with Flybe – and how we can enhance the experience for our mutual customers, once Connect Airways joins the Virgin family and operates under its new brand.”

Warwick Brady, CEO, Stobart Group, said: “We are building a talented team capable of establishing a well-structured, profitable airline. From today, that team are building an exciting future based on a low-cost customer-centric regional connectivity strategy. I am excited for the future of this business.”

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