Published on : Monday, October 19, 2020
Flybe is eyeing possibilities of making a return to U.K. skies next year following a deal for the assets of the airline that was collapsed during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. The regional carrier had to undertake the unfortunate step in light of the compounding years of financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Administrators EY sold the brand and remaining assets to Thyme Opco ahead of a potential return. The company is affiliated to Cyrus Capital, which had put cash into the Virgin Atlantic-led rescue attempt back in 2019. The deal could see the Exeter-based carrier restarting as a regional airline in the U.K. in early 2021.
Flybe flew about eight million passengers a year between 81 airports in the U.K. and Europe, and has been struggling financially over years. It was promised fresh investment when a consortium of Virgin, Stobart Air and Cyrus Capital took over the airline in 2019. Virgin Atlantic had planned to rebrand the airline and integrate it as a feeder for its long-haul routes from Manchester and London. This model now appears unlikely, however, with Virgin Atlantic having scaled back its operations in the wake of the pandemic.
Simon Edel, a joint administrator, said in a statement that it would be great news for communities around the U.K. who had relied on Flybe. He mentioned that the restart of the iconic brand, which was once Europe’s largest regional airline, will provide a potentially significant boost to aviation jobs, regional connectivity and local economies. A Thyme Opco spokesperson added that while the company is planning to start off smaller than before, it is expecting to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the U.K. and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country’s economy.