Flybe is to resume flights in early 2021 after being resurrected by a former shareholder.
The Exeter-based regional airline, which collapsed in March, has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Thyme Opco, a company affiliated with investment adviser and former Flybe shareholder Cyrus Capital.
Administrators Ernst and Young confirmed the sale of Flybe’s ‘business and assets, including the brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment’ to Thyme Opco today.
While the sale of Flybe is still subject to Civil Aviation Authority approvals and regulatory requirements, Ernst and Young said the deal is expected to allow the Flybe business to re-start operations as a ‘smaller regional airline in the UK’ under the Flybe brand in early 2021.
Ernst and Young said it would be working with Thyme Opco, the Flybe management team and the CAA to prepare for the relaunch of Flybe’s airline operations.
Simon Edel, Joint Administrator and Ernst and Young Turnaround and Restructuring Strategy Partner said: “Today’s announcement, and the upcoming completion of this sale, will be great news to communities around the country that were previously served by Flybe. The restart of this 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: “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to re-launch Flybe. The airline is not only a well-known UK brand, it was also the largest regional air carrier in the EU, so while we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK, and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country’s economy.”
The Joint Administrators were appointed to Flybe on 5 March 2020 following the significant disruption to the airline industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Flybe was acquired in 2019 by a consortium headed by Virgin Atlantic, which also included Stobart Group and hedge fund Cyrus Capital. The consortium put in at least £100 million, but Flybe needed more, and the government agreed in January to a loan, believed to be in the shape of a delay in paying Air Passenger Duty (APD) for three years, worth £100m.
Prior to going into administration, Flybe was Europe’s largest regional airline, serving more than 80 airports across the UK and Europe, carrying around 8 million passengers a year across the UK and the rest of Europe and accounting for 40% of domestic UK flights.