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Collapsed airline Flybe to return to the skies

Neil Lancefield and August Graham
·2-min read

Flybe will return to the skies after administrators said they had completed the sale of the collapsed airline.

Thyme Opco has bought Flybe’s business and assets, and plans to resume flights this summer, although on a smaller scale than before.

Having struggled for years, the Exeter-based carrier was pushed into administration in March 2020 with the loss of 2,400 jobs as the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed large parts of the travel market.

It had a major presence at UK airports such as Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester and Southampton, and flew the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.

The new owners are linked to Cyrus Capital, which teamed up with Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group in a rescue deal in February 2019 which kept what was Europe’s largest regional airline afloat for 13 months.

Wednesday’s announcement marks the completion of an asset purchase agreement signed in October last year.

Thyme Opco will be renamed Flybe Limited.

Simon Edel, an administrator at EY, said: “Completion of the sale of Flybe is positive news for local communities previously served by Flybe.

“The launch of a new Flybe will enhance regional connectivity across the UK and create new job opportunities within the airline industry.

Watch: COVID-19 - Jet2 suspends flights and holidays until late June due to uncertainty over government travel plans

“Flybe stands to make an important contribution to local economies as they rebuild after the pandemic and as restrictions ease to allow an increase in air travel.”

A Flybe Limited spokesman said: “We are extremely excited to announce the conclusion of almost six months of dedicated hard work by the great team at Flybe, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the European Commission, and the many others who made this announcement possible.

“Today’s news represents a critical first step in our mission to accomplish the first-ever rescue of an insolvent British airline.

“Subject to further success with vaccinations and relaxation of travel restrictions, we plan to launch a new and much-improved Flybe sometime this summer on many of our former routes where there remains a critical need for a strong, reliable, and customer-focused airline.

“While our company will initially be smaller than before, we intend to grow, create valuable jobs, and make significant contributions to essential regional connectivity in the UK and EU.”

It is unclear how many jobs will be rescued under the purchase.