Airline rescue deal: Will Flybe return to the skies next year?

FLYBE planes could be back in the skies early next year after administrators agreed a rescue deal for the collapsed airline.

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The carrier, which had wrestled with significant financial problems for years, went out of business in March as the emerging coronavirus pandemic killed off its hopes of survival.

At the time, the airline, previously known as Jersey European Airways, operated routes between Jersey and Birmingham, Southampton, Exeter, Guernsey, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Manchester, Geneva and Inverness.

Blue Islands also ran a number of other routes under a code-share deal using the Flybe brand. It later took over a small number of Flybe’s profitable routes following the UK airline’s collapse.

Yesterday it was announced that Thyme Opco is to buy Flybe’s remaining assets, and plans to restart the airline, although on a smaller scale than before.

The new owners are linked to Cyrus Capital, which, along with the Stobart Group, was part of the short-lived Virgin Atlantic-led rescue bid launched 11 months before Flybe went out of business.

A spokesperson for Thyme Opco, which is to buy the airline’s brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment, said: ‘We are extremely excited about the opportunity to relaunch 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.’

It is unclear how many jobs will be rescued under Thyme Opco’s new plans.

Simon Edel, an administrator at EY, 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.’

In a statement, the administrators said that the new deal is expected to allow the business to restart operations under the Flybe brand in early 2021.

Ports of Jersey confirmed that there had been no talks with Flybe’s new owners over restarting Jersey services, but would welcome discussions.

‘Ports of Jersey continues to welcome an approach by any transport provider interested in establishing routes in and out of the Island. No approaches have been made to Ports of Jersey in relation to Flybe re-establishing any links to the Island, but we wait with interest any further updates or developments from the airline as to its future plans,’ a spokesman said.

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