Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus confirm offer for Flybe
Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus confirm offer for Flybe
Virgin leads bid to buy Flybe for just £2.2m
14 January, 2019, 02:15
Lucien Farrell, partner of Cyrus, which helped Virgin sell its Virgin America arm to Alaska Airlines previous year, added: "We believe Flybe's United Kingdom regional focus and high quality management, together with Virgin Atlantic's dedication to the best customer experience and Stobart Group's expertise in regional flying, will produce a world-class airline".
She said: "The industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit".
Flybe said it expected "pressure" on its cash flow to continue, and added the offer represented "the most realistic means of securing Flybe's future".
Stobart Group's aviation unit and Virgin Atlantic will each hold 30%.
Flybe bosses have unanimously recommended the offer, with chief executive Christine Ourmières-Widener saying that being part of the enlarged group leaves it "better placed" to withstand some of the issues it is facing.
Virgin Atlantic and Flybe already have a codeshare agreement in place, meaning that passengers are able to transfer between the two airlines on selected flights.
Flybe operates a fleet of around 80 regional aircraft to 85 destinations, making it Europe's largest regional airline, while Stobart Air operates 18 aircraft to 31 destinations.
A Luxembourg firm wholly owned by funds managed by Cyrus has a 40pc stake in Connect Airways.
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Virgin and its new partners form a new joint venture, Connect Airways.
This Flybe takeover has ended the speculation after last November it was announced that the company had put itself up for sale.
Connect has committed to make available a £20 million bridge loan facility to support Flybe's ongoing working capital and operational requirements. Stobart Air will continue to operate under its Irish air operator's certificate.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, added: "We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with Stobart Group and Cyrus to bring Virgin Atlantic service excellence to Flybe's customers".
"The combined entity will be a powerful combination with sufficient scale to compete effectively in the United Kingdom and European airline markets", added the former Easyjet executive.
Stobart owns London Southend Airport and a year ago secured a significant coup when it announced that Ryanair will establish a base at the gateway from this summer, operating 13 routes to eight countries.
Warwick Brady, boss of Southend Airport owner Stobart Group, advised by Barclays, said the takeover is an "excellent opportunity" to grow passenger numbers at the airport, and to "play an active role in United Kingdom regional flying".
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