Flybe puts itself up for sale after profits warning

Flybe up for sale weeks after profit warning

"The board of Flybe Group Plc announces today that it is undertaking a comprehensive review of the various strategic options open to it to address the current challenges facing the airline industry and maximise value for shareholders", it said in a statement.

The three options are continuing to shrink and cut costs; to strengthen the balance sheet and preserve cash; and to sell the firm.

The Stobart group has been mentioned in some reports as a possible buyer.

Flybe is now reviewing its business in terms of cash management, cost savings and capacity reduction. We remain confident in the vital role that Flybe plays in United Kingdom connectivity.

Flybe now operates 204 routes serving 15 countries from 80 departure points in the United Kingdom and Europe and is the largest scheduled airline by air traffic movements at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Isle of Man, Jersey, Newquay and Southampton airports.

Passenger numbers edged 0.6% higher to 5.2 million.

Seat capacity fell 9% as the company continued to execute on its strategy of reducing the fleet size and focusing on higher demand and profitable routes. Its net debt increased to £82m.

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Unions are anxious jobs could be lost at Flybe.

The airline operates a fleet of 78 aircraft - 54 Bombardier Q400, eight Embraer E195, 11 E175 and five ATR 72s.

Flybe also pointed to "major uncertainty" around Brexit and the wider economy as a factor.

Julian Tagg said: "Flybe have been a fantastic supporter of our football club and the city of Exeter for many years".

The alert sent shares tumbling by more than a third on the day and almost 75% has been wiped off its stock market value since December. IAG - owner of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus - is looking to expand.

An alternative could be to carve up the airline's network, with the central core of links connecting Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast and the Scottish airports seen as the main prize.

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