Flybe future ‘secure’ after Europe approves rescue bid

Simon Calder

The long-term future of Flybe, Britain’s biggest regional airline is “secure” after the European Commission approved a rescue bid involving Virgin Atlantic.

The ailing carrier has been acquired by Connect Airways – a consortium of Virgin, Stobart Air and a US investor, Propius Holdings.

But this is just a working title, as the airline promises “an exciting new brand and customer proposition” that is “in line with the Virgin brand”.

The new chief executive, Mark Anderson, said: “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.”

It is expected that the route network and schedule will be re-shaped to feed Virgin Atlantic transatlantic flights at Heathrow and Manchester, but the firm also says it has “plans to grow Flybe’s regional network”.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “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.”