Business

Flybe could return to skies next year

Flybe had operated as the anchor airline at Belfast City Airport until its collapse in March 2020. Pictures by Mal McCann.
August Graham

Flybe planes might start taking off from UK airports again early next year after administrators said they had agreed a rescue deal for the collapsed airline.

The airline, which entered administration in March 2020, had operated four-in-five routes at Belfast City Airport prior to its collapse. 

Thyme Opco has bought 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 was part of a Virgin Atlantic-led rescue attempt for the airline last year.

The two companies teamed up with Stobart Group to try to keep the company afloat in a deal in February 2019.

It has now reached a deal alone with the administrators, which should see the purple planes taking to the air again.

"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" said a spokesperson for Thyme Opco.

Having struggled for years, Flybe was pushed into administration earlier this year as the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed large parts of the travel market. Even before the pandemic started, in January the airline had narrowly avoided administration.

The collapse of Europe's largest regional airline put thousands of jobs on the line in March.

"Unfortunately, with the situation that has developed with (coronavirus), an already weak company, I'm afraid, just hasn't been able to survive," transport secretary Grant Shapps said at the time.

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."

READ MORE: Passenger numbers down 77 per cent at Belfast City Airport in March after Flybe collapse

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