Why Does Virgin Atlantic Want To Buy Flybe?

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it’s looking at a potential bid for Flybe.

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe and Virgin Atlantic
Flybe and Virgin Atlantic

Following Sky News’ exclusive report on Thursday evening, Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it is in discussions about a possible bid to buy Flybe.

Flybe announced a little over a week ago that it had put itself up for sale and has appointed advisors to manage the process.

At the outset there are some caveats.

When a business announces it is up for sale, it is to be expected that many parties will come forward to have a good look at the books. Few will ultimately submit a bid.

Ordinarily, their identities are supposed to be confidential. When prospective purchasers are leaked to the media, it is usually deliberate and for a reason. More names may appear in the press this weekend.

Given Virgin’s existing codeshare relationship and the potential impact of a change in ownership it is to be expected that Virgin will take an active interest in the process.

With Virgin’s track record you could be forgiven this was simply a means of generating press coverage. When Lufthansa sold bmi seven years ago Virgin made a lot of noise about making a bid. It was not seen by Lufthansa as anywhere near as credible as the bid by International Airlines Group. So much so that the only alternative was liquidating the airline.

However, the fact that Virgin has appointed Rothschild to advise suggests it is serious in its intent.

Why would an exclusively long-haul airline want to buy a regional airline that barely touches the airports it serves?

Virgin Atlantic and Flybe

Virgin Atlantic does have an existing codeshare relationship with Flybe.

It relies on Flybe to provide short-haul feed, principally at Heathrow and Manchester. Flybe’s routes from Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh use remedy slots released by BA as a condition of its merger with bmi. Virgin tried unsuccessfully to use these slots itself, wet leasing aircraft from Aer Lingus under the brand “Little Red”. Should Flybe withdraw from Heathrow for any reason, these would revert back to BA.

There is another factor: Air France-KLM. It is due to take a stake in Virgin next year. Air France-KLM and Virgin will combine their respective transatlantic joint-ventures with Delta into one to compete more effectively with American Airlines and BA. Air France relies on Flybe to provide feed to Paris Charles de Gaulle from some UK regional airports. Flybe’s UK regional network could be optimised to feed all four airlines.

That said, there are a lot of things that don’t make sense.

Virgin is loss-making and has much else to do next year. Long-haul and short-haul regional operations are radically different. Flybe has substantial operations at airports of little strategic interest, Cardiff, Exeter, London City, Norwich, Southampton. A lot of politically unpopular decisions would have to be made. If Virgin wants to acquire more short-haul feed at Heathrow and Manchester – and this is the dilemma facing any potential purchaser – there are other ways to go about it than buying Flybe.

Expect this to run and run over the next few months.

Flybe launches London Heathrow – Newquay

Flybe will transfer its flights to Newquay from Gatwick to Heathrow from Sunday 31 March 2019.

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

Heathrow Airport has snatched another route from Gatwick as Flybe is to transfer its service to Newquay from Sunday 31 March 2018.

Currently, Flybe flies from Gatwick to Newquay up to three times daily, typically with an Embraer E195 aircraft.

From Sunday 31 March 2018, this will operate from London Heathrow up to four times daily with a smaller Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop aircraft.

This was Flybe’s last remaining route at Gatwick which means the airline will leave the airport. The London – Newquay route is a Public Service Obligation route and is supported by funding from Government and Cornwall Council.

Flights will be on sale at Flybe before the end of November 2018.

Codeshares

It’s worth noting that the existing Gatwick – Newquay is codeshared with a number of airlines including BA, Emirates and Virgin.

It’s a safe assumption that to support four flights a day and connectivity for the South West region there will be a substantial number of codeshares with airlines at Heathrow.

If you have an existing booking for travel after Sunday 31 March 2019 to connect to/from a long-haul flight at Gatwick it is strongly advised to change your connection to Heathrow if possible. Otherwise, you will probably have to avoid have to cross London at your own expense. This is best avoided at almost all cost.
Continue reading “Flybe launches London Heathrow – Newquay”

Flybe launches London City – Newcastle

Flybe is to launch a new direct route from London City to Newcastle from Monday 7 January 2019, operated by franchise partner Eastern Airways.

London Air Travel » Flybe

The Angel Of The North
The Angel Of The North (Image Credit: NewcastleGateshead Tourism)

Flybe is to launch a new direct route from London City airport to Newcastle from Monday 7 January 2019.

Flights operate twice daily on weekdays and once a day on Sundays. This will be the only direct air link between London and Newcastle after BA’s service from Heathrow.

The service will be operated by Eastern Airways under Flybe’s livery. Eastern Airways also operates London City – Aberdeen on behalf of Flybe which, from Monday 7 January 2019, will operate via Newcastle.

The flight time is 65 minute from London and 70 minutes from Newcastle. This compares to a journey time of around 2 hours and 50 minutes on the train.

Flights are on sale now at Flybe.

At the moment flights up to Friday 29 March 2019 are only on sale. However, flights beyond Sunday 31 March 2019 should be on sale in the coming weeks.
Continue reading “Flybe launches London City – Newcastle”

Flybe launches new routes from Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Aircraft (Image Credit: Heathrow Airport)

Flybe today, Sunday 26 March 2017, launches new direct flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The first Flybe flight to depart London will be BE2122 to Aberdeen at 09:45.

Flybe will fly to Aberdeen & Edinburgh up to 3 & 4 times daily on weekdays. Flights will operate with reduced frequencies on Saturdays and Sundays. Flights will operate from London Heathrow Terminal 2.  

At launch, Flybe will codeshare with Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. Flybe also has interline agreements in place with United Airlines, Delta, Qantas, and TAP.

Continue reading “Flybe launches new routes from Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh”

Flybe to launch London Heathrow – Aberdeen & Edinburgh

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe has today announced it is to launch direct flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh from 26 March 2017.

The slots to operate these flights will be sourced from British Airways.  As a condition of the purchase by its parent company, International Airlines Group, of bmi British Midland from Lufthansa in 2012, IAG is required to make slots available to eligible airlines for certain designated city pairs including London to Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The process is overseen by independent trustee.

Continue reading “Flybe to launch London Heathrow – Aberdeen & Edinburgh”

Flybe launches temporary London City – Cardiff service

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

The Severn Tunnel, which the Great Western Railway operates through between London Paddington and South Wales, is to close for six weeks from Monday 12 September 2016 and Friday 21 October 2016.

As a consequence of the closure trains will be diverted and journey times from London Paddington to South Wales will increase by up to 40 minutes.

In response, Flybe has launched a temporary service between London City airport and Cardiff airport from 12 September 2016 to 21 October 2016.

Flights will operate up to four times daily on weekdays and twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays. Flights will be operated by VLM Airlines on behalf of Flybe.

Flights are on sale now and a full timetable is available from Flybe.

This is not the first scheduled passenger service between London City and Cardiff. Air Wales operated a short-lived service between London City, Cardiff and Swansea airports in 2006.

Further details on the Severn Tunnel closure are available from GWR and Network Rail.

Flybe to suspend London City – Dublin from 31 May 2015

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

Flybe is to suspend its London City – Dublin route from 31 May 2015, a little over six months after Flybe opened a base at the airport.

Passengers have been offered either a refund or an alternative flight on Flybe. The London City – Dublin route is also served by CityJet and British Airways. The amount of capacity on the route is a likely factor behind Flybe’s decision.

Flybe launches new routes from London City

London Air Travel » Flybe

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

Flybe has this morning, 23 April 2014, announced it will set up a base at London City airport, launching new routes to Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness from Monday 27 October 2014.

Continue reading “Flybe launches new routes from London City”

Sunday Times: Flybe may sell London Gatwick slots to easyJet

London Air Travel » Flybe

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

The Sunday Times has interesting story (Sunday Times Paywall) which states that Flybe is in discussions with easyJet to sell its portfolio of slots at London Gatwick airport.

Continue reading “Sunday Times: Flybe may sell London Gatwick slots to easyJet”