Flybe up for sale weeks after profit warning

Kenny Grant
November 16, 2018

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA), said: "Flybe is the largest regional airline in Europe with 2,300 talented, committed employees in the United Kingdom who will be very anxious to hear this morning that their company is up for sale".

Flybe has 78 planes operating from smaller airports including London City, Southampton and Norwich, and flies to destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe.

It has appointed Evercore as its financial adviser to assist with the review, though it said "there can be no certainty that an offer will be made".

In March it pulled out of early-stage talks to buy the airline.

It comes just weeks after Flybe warned over profits following easing demand and a £29m hit from rising fuel costs and the weak pound.

Profits sank 54 per cent year on year to £7.4m for the six months to the end of September, down from £16.1m, as Flybe paid "onerous" aircraft loans for nine leased Embraer 195 jets it plans to return in 2020.

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It saw group revenues fall 10% or 2.4% on an underlying basis to £409.2 million after it cut capacity by 9%.

The airline's shares have fallen by nearly 75% since September.

Shares in Flybe, which have dropped more than 60 per cent over the past year, rose 11 per cent...

Passenger revenue per seat grew 7.9% to £60.18 during the half and the load factor increased by 8% to 84.0% from a year earlier, owing to better utilisation of the fleet, the company said.

That warning sent shares in the company plunging by 40%.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said that while the higher fuel costs and weak pound had pushed FlyBe to the current situation, "it has been for some time a zombie airline". "This is already starting to have a positive impact, as shown by the improved first half adjusted profit before tax; however, we must do more in the coming months", according to Ourmières-Widener. 'We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business, especially further capacity reduction, cash management and cost savings.

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