This year has been a bit of a bloodbath for airlines. We’ve seen Air Berlin, Primera, Monarch and Cobalt go this year. Icelandic airline WowAir got taken over for around $25m by rival Icelandair, that’s less than the price of a single one of their aircraft.
Flybe has also been in the news recently for similar reasons – they’ve been doing quite a lot of PR recently after they announced they were actively looking for a buyer, despite being publicly listed on the stock exchange. I suspect bookings have fallen through the floor.
Sky News is reporting this evening that Virgin Atlantic is in talks to acquire them.
“Sources said the transatlantic airline was pursuing an interest in Flybe because of the opportunities a tie-up would provide to feed passenger traffic into Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network, as well as its access to valuable take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport which are ring-fenced for domestic flights.
The two carriers already operate a code-share pact aimed at improving access to Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul routes for regional customers using the regional airline’s flights into Heathrow and Manchester.“
There’s a lot of interesting background in the article as well, and is well worth a read. The only other area which I’d say is interesting, and Sky News don’t mention is this seems to tie in very closely with the strategy that Delta (who own 49% of Virgin Atlantic) have had around the world.
Delta have been buying minority stakes in a substantial number of airlines globally, including SkyTeam partners AeroMexico and Korean Air. Their 49% stake in Virgin and beefing up of its presence with this potential purchase could make things interesting indeed and provide further well needed competition with British Airways at Heathrow, not seen since the British Midland days.