It’s been some time coming, but the European Commission formally approved the take over of FlyBe by Connect Airways.
They will merge FlyBe, Stobart Air and Proppius Holdings into one company.
With the merger clearance completed, this should be the foundation of FlyBe’s long term future. Also, with Connect Airways now in charge, the leadership teams from FlyBe and Stobart Air have work to do – with plans to grow Flybe’s regional network, as well as expanding Stobart Air’s successful franchise business.
Connect Airways touts the following benefits to its customers
- A foundation to secure Flybe’s long-term future, building on the strong financial backing and expertise of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus
- More choice for customers through improved connectivity between UK regional airports and Virgin Atlantic’s extensive long-haul network, particularly at London Heathrow and Manchester Airports
- An enhanced customer experience in line with the Virgin brand, which Connect Airways will use in due course
- A leading franchise-flying business, via its investment in Stobart Air’s market-leading proposition
The airline is developing a new brand customer proposition, which will be announced in due course.
However, this merger does come at a price to the airline, who will have to abide by the European Commissions resolutions- which include Connect Airways having to release five daily slot pairs at Amsterdam Schiphol airport and three daily slot pairs at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
These slots will be released to competing airlines that want to fly the Birmingham – Amsterdam and Birmingham – Paris routes due to the monopoly fears (as Air France-KLM Group have a holding in Virgin Atlantic).
Lucien Farrell, Chairman, Connect Airways said
“Today is an important day as Connect Airways takes full control of Flybe, bringing the team together with Stobart Air. Under Mark’s leadership, the company has the opportunity to create a world-class offering for customers, combining a highly successful franchise flying business with Europe’s largest regional airline. I wish Mark and the team every success.”
Comment from Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic said
“Mark and his team at Connect Airways have an amazing opportunity ahead of them. At Virgin Atlantic we recognise the value of great partnerships, and the network and connectivity benefits they offer customers. I’m excited to build on the successful partnership Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed with Flybe – and how we can enhance the experience for our mutual customers, once Connect Airways joins the Virgin family and operates under its new brand.”
Comment from Mark Anderson, CEO, Connect Airways:
“On behalf of Connect Airways, I couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity we have to build a strong platform in the UK and to grow our franchise flying operation in Ireland. Our whole team is focused on redefining the experience for our customers, as we rediscover the excitement and passion of being Europe’s largest regional airline.”
The real work begins
With Connect Airways picking up FlyBe and Stobart Air, the hard work beings turning around what was a loss making venture and turning around the airline. This is going to require some ruthlessness to cut loss making services, as well as careful analysis to see what actually will work either as a point-to-point service or as a feeder service to Virgin Atlantic.
There is also a chance to shake off an unwanted image Flybe had – of being delayed and cancelled and some rather draconian hand luggage management.
Let the real work of making Connect Airways work begin.
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, with in-depth coverage, unique research as well as the humour and madness as I only know how to deliver.