Norwich Airport airline Flybe bought by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group
PUBLISHED: 10:40 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 11 January 2019
Flybe, a major flight provider out of Norwich Airport, has been bought out by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group.
The regional airline provider was sold for a tidy £2.2m, and will result in the creation of a new airline group.
In 2018, Flybe issued a profit warning following falling demand and a £29m hit from rising fuel costs and the weak pound.
Flybe currently flies out of Norwich to destinations including Exeter, Alicante and Malaga, as well as offering flights to John O’Groats and Aberdeen through a partnership with Eastern Airways.
The buying companies, in conjunction with Cyrus Capital Partners, have agreed an offer of just 1p per share for Flybe, which put itself up for sale in November.
The price represents a significant markdown on Flybe’s Thursday closing price of 16.38p. Shares in the airline crashed to as little as 1.2p on Friday morning following the announcement.
Under the plans, the airline will be combined with Stobart Air in a joint venture called Connect Airways.
Cyrus will own 40% of the new company, while Virgin and Stobart will take 30% apiece.
The three companies have committed to make a £20m bridge available to support Flybe’s current operations, while an additional £80m will be provided to the combined group.
More than 450 Flybe employees are members of union unite.
Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “We are pleased that the period of uncertainty has come to an end with this announcement. That uncertainly had been caused by higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and Brexit uncertainty.
“However, we will be meeting with the company as matter of urgency to fully understand the future business plan and seek assurances on jobs, and terms and conditions going forward.
“We are seeking a constructive dialogue to ensure a prosperous and secure future for Flybe and our members.”
Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said the firm had been forced to seek a buyer due to higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and Brexit uncertainty.
“We have been affected by all of these factors which have put pressure on short-term financial performance,” she said.
“At the same time, Flybe suffered from a number of legacy issues that are being addressed but are still adversely affecting cashflows.
“By combining to form a larger, stronger group, we will be better placed to withstand these pressures. We aim to provide an even better service to our customers and secure the future for our people.”