Vir­gin At­lantic in talks with Flybe

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - News -

Shares in Flybe took off yes­ter­day fol­low­ing re­ports that Vir­gin At­lantic is in talks about a takeover bid for the strug­gling air­line.

Vir­gin, part owned by Sir Richard Bran­son, is thought to be vy­ing with Sto­bart to buy Flybe and is in­ter­ested in its take-off and land­ing slots at Lon­don’s Heathrow Air­port.

Flybe shares were up nearly 20% in morn­ing trade at 11.4p.

The re­gional air­line put it­self up for sale last week af­ter a prof­its warn­ing ear­lier in the year. The Ex­eter-based car- rier is bat­tling chal­leng­ing con­di­tions in the air­line in­dus­try and has been hit with fall­ing de­mand and a £29 mil­lion hit from ris­ing fuel costs and the weak pound.

Flybe has 78 planes op­er­at­ing from smaller air­ports in­clud­ing, and this week was an­nounced as the op­er­a­tor for a new ser­vice from Newquay to Heathrow. It car­ries around eight mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year and Vir­gin would look to at­tract cus­tomers into its long­haul net­work via Flybe’s do­mes­tic routes, ac­cord­ing to Sky News.

Trade unions have al­ready raised con­cerns over the im­pact of a Flybe’s sale on the car­rier’s 2,300 em­ploy­ees.

In half-year re­sults an­nounced last week, Flybe saw cost-cut­ting help lift un­der­ly­ing pre-tax prof­its to £9.9 mil­lion from £9.2 mil­lion a year ear­lier. But statu­tory pre-tax prof­its for the six months to Septem­ber 30 more than halved to £7.4 mil­lion from £16.1 mil­lion a year ear­lier.

It saw group rev­enues fall 10% or 2.4% on an un­der­ly­ing ba­sis to £409.2 mil­lion af­ter it cut ca­pac­ity by 9%.

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