Virgin Atlantic working on bid for Norwich Airport airline

Norwich Airport operator Flybe is up for sale PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich Airport operator Flybe is up for sale PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Virgin Atlantic are still considering launching a takeover bid for troubled regional airline Flybe which flies out of Norwich Airport.

Bosses put the firm up for sale in November just weeks after releasing a profit warning.

Both Stobart and British Airways are also believed to be interested in making bids but Virgin, part owned by Sir Richard Branson, is the favourite.

A Virgin spokesman said it 'continues to review its options in respect of Flybe, including potentially making an offer'.

He added: 'Accordingly, discussions with Flybe and its management are continuing.'

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. It cancelled its route to Jersey next summer because of low uptake from passengers.

The company was hit by falling demand as well as rising fuel costs and the weak pound. In the past 12 months almost 75% has been wiped off its stock market value.

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Exeter-based Flybe has 78 planes operating from smaller airports including London City and Southampton as well as Norwich. It carries around eight million passengers a year and Virgin would look to attract customers into its long-haul network via Flybe's domestic routes.

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