We rubbed our eyes in disbelief and had to pinch ourselves twice in the NTI newsroom this morning; could it be true? Could Flybe take to the skies again this summer at the end of the re-birth process? Certainly Administrators at EY seem very excited about the prospect, having sold the business and the assets of the company to the catchily named Cyrus Capital. The new name of the company will be 'Flybe Limited' and although the NTI newsroom are a little concerned that potential passengers may initially find this confusing, we hope they will twig soon enough.
It is true that the relaunch will, to a certain extent, rest upon the relaxation of Government travel restrictions, which is a small Flybe in the ointment for the new owners, but it is also true that of the 46 domestic routes served by the company prior to its grounding 42 of them are now owned by Loganair and other airlines. It is also true that the done deal excludes Flybe's aircraft which were mortgaged to lenders by the previous owners ... and the Civil Aviation Authority revoked the moribund airline's operating licence in March of this year, due to the fact that it was in Administration.
It is still yet more true that we have never actually run an airline at NTI, but let's see; no planes, no routes, no operating licence and no travel due to Government restrictions. This not a relaunch we would recommend our readers put their money into. A Flybe (Limited) spokesperson said:
"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.”
"But you have no planes and no routes."
"Have you ever run an airline, Madam?"
"Well, no, but ..."
"Well, we have, and apart from owing unsecured creditors in the region of £600 to £650 million ..."
"And having no planes and no routes ..."
" ... we are very good at what we do."
"Apart from that Administration thing, where you lost £100 million of Virgin's investment and managed to cock-up a virtual monopoly of domestic routes in the UK."
Kevin Hatton, a former executive at British Airways will become the new chair of Flybe (Limited) and the first route he will set up will be between his house and Exeter, close to where he has a holiday cottage. Other routes will follow and there was a rumour floating around the Internet last night that one between Wolverhampton and Birmingham International is high on the list, with a check-in time of six hours due to Covid restrictions regarded as nothing but a 'mere blip'.
Prior to its collapse, Flybe carried around eight million passengers a year between 81 airports in the UK and Europe. Now it has a single passenger who has been waiting at Southampton Airport for his flight to Malaga since October 2019. A roving reporter from the NTI newsroom asked the Flybe (Limited)'s spokesperson about this, but he cut his answer short to pop out and buy a plane.