Troubled Liverpool to Belfast airline Flybe up for sale as it faces £22m losses

Flybe offers services to Belfast City, the Isle of Man and Newquay out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport as part of a 210-route network across 15 European countries. Tony McDonough reports

Flybe
Flybe operates three routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport

 

Troubled regional airline Flybe – which operates three routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) – is seeking a buyer as it faces annual losses of more than £20m.

Flybe offers services to Belfast City, the Isle of Man and Newquay out of LJLA as part of a 210-route network across 15 European countries, carrying more than 9m passengers a year. It was founded by steel tycoon and former Blackburn Rovers owner Jack Walker.

However, the stock market listed carrier has been struggling to make headway amid falling demand and the rising price of aviation fuel – a cost which has also eaten into profits at rival airline Ryanair.

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In its half-year result for the six months to the end of September – covering the busy summer season – Flybe reported profits had halved to £7.4m from revenues of £375m. It is projected to report a full-year loss of £22m for the 12 months to the end of March 2019.

It had previously expected to lose just £3.5m after losing £9.4m last year and £48m the year before. Its share price is now hovering around the 10p mark a long way below the 2014 flotation price of 295p.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange its has said: “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.

“These options include further capacity and cost saving measures, initiatives to strengthen the balance sheet and preserve cash resources, as well as a potential sale of the company through the commencement of a ‘formal sale process’.”

The Flybe board said it had appointed Evercore as its financial adviser to assist it with this review. The airline said it had already spoken with a number of “strategic operators” but no offers for the business have yet been made.

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