Flybe last night declined to comment on media speculation that it is locked in survival talks less than a year after being bailed out by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium.

Sky News reported that the regional airline, which handles more than half of UK domestic flights outside London, has been trying to secure additional financing amid mounting losses.

It was suggested that accountancy firm EY has been put on standby to handle an administration of Flybe Group, which could see 2,400 jobs put at risk.

The government was said to be involved in trying to keep the Exeter-based airline in the air. Flights were operating as normal this morning.

One source close to Flybe reportedly said on Sunday night that the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy had been working to determine whether the government could provide or facilitate any emergency financing to the company.


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If Flybe is unable to find a rescue deal, it would be the second major airline collapse in four months, following the failure of Thomas Cook Group last September.

Unite today became the second union to seek clarification on the status of Flybe amid speculation about its future.

Flybe operates about 75 aircraft and serves more than 80 airports across the UK and Europe.

A spokesperson for the airline said on Sunday night: “Flybe continues to focus on providing great service and connectivity for our customers, to ensure that they can continue to travel as planned.

“We don’t comment on rumour or speculation.”

Virgin Atlantic also said it would not comment on speculation and neither would the Civil Aviation Authority.

British Airline Pilots Association general secretary Brian Strutton said: “I am appalled that once again the future of a major UK airline and hundreds of jobs is being discussed in secret with no input from employees or their representatives.

“According to reports the airline could have collapsed over the weekend which would have been devastating news.

“This is an appalling state of affairs and we demand that the owners of Flybe – Virgin, Stobart and Cyrus – and the government departments involved stop hiding and talk to us about Flybe.

“We have a right to be consulted and the staff have a right to know what is going on.”

A consortium including Virgin Atlantic, Cyrus Capital and Southend airport owner Stobart Group acquired Flybe’s assets in March 2019, and pledged to inject a further £100 million into the ailing airline’s turnaround plan.

It is set to be renamed Virgin Connect with a focus on feeding passengers into Virgin Atlantics London and Manchester hubs.

Cyrus Capital owns the largest share of a company formed to handle the assets, called Connect Airways, with 40%. The other partners own 30% each.

Connect Airways chief executive Mark Anderson unveiled the airline’s new name in October as Virgin Connect with the overall rebrand set for later this year.

 

tw6