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Flybe could take charge of 43 Ryanair routes

Published 07/02/2013

BUDGET airline Flybe says it will take charge of 43 Ryanair routes should the carrier succeed in taking over Aer Lingus.

Ryanair plans a €694 million (£597m) takeover of Aer Lingus but must convince the European Commission it would not lead to a monopoly of the Irish airline market.

The Flybe board entered an agreement which would see it receive a minimum of nine Airbus A320 aircraft and a cash injection of €100 million (£86m) from Ryanair.

The newly created Flybe Ireland would operate from bases in Dublin and Cork, with many of the 34 European destinations served by the 43 routes already used by Flybe's British business.

Ryanair said it would allow Flybe to use the Aer Lingus brand for three years and would develop a business plan that should provide €20m (£17m) in pre-tax profits in the 12 months following the transfer.

The European Commission is set to give its decision on the takeover bid next month.

Flybe said should the deal go through it expects to start using the routes at the beginning of the winter season.

"Flybe would be proud to have the chance to serve the Irish markets and would be, as we seek to be throughout the rest of Europe, a good employer and corporate citizen," its chairman and chief executive Jim French said.

"However, before Flybe Ireland can come into being there are many hurdles to overcome, not least the EC accepting the remedies offered by Ryanair in its offer to take over Aer Lingus and then the shareholders of Aer Lingus accepting an offer from Ryanair."

Exeter-based Flybe flies from airports across Britain and Ireland including Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh and the east midlands.

Last month, it announced plans to slash costs by £35m as it looks to stem recent losses.

It has been hit by the high cost of fuel and the impact of air passenger duty hikes.

It is understood as many as 20 staff the airline's Belfast operation could go as a result of the move.

Flybe operates to 17 destinations from the George Best City Airport where it has had a presence for 30 years and employs 250 staff.

Support and production roles such as human resources and IT will be affected by the jobs cull while around a fifth of its management team is being cut.

Ryanair, meanwhile, last week reported a 15 per cent rice is revenues in the three months to the end of December.

It now expects profits of around €540m (£466m) in the year to March, which would represent a seven per cent increase on last year's performance.

Ryanair also increased its full-year profits guidance in November to between €490m (£423m) and €520m (£449m), up from €400m (£345m) to €440m (£380m) previously forecast.