Flybe aims higher with £150m funding call

Flybe aims to add 38 routes
Flybe aims to add 38 routes
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REGIONAL airline Flybe yesterday said it planned to “move on the front foot” by raising £150m from City investors and adding 38 routes over the next three years.

The group, which flies from Leeds-Bradford International Airport, said the move will provide it with the resources for expansion.

Saad Hammad, the chief executive, said: “We have made significant progress over the past year in stabilising, restructuring and reconfiguring the group.

“Today, I am pleased to announce a £150m fully underwritten capital raise, which will significantly strengthen our balance sheet and provide capital to pursue our profitable growth strategy.

“We enter an exciting phase in the group’s development as we continue to build Europe’s best regional airline. I would like to thank our existing and new owners for their support of our capital raise, and also my colleagues across the group for their continued hard work and commitment to deliver a great Flybe experience to our customers every day.”

Flybe operates a service from Leeds-Bradford to Belfast City airport. None of Flybe’s staff are based at Leeds-Bradford.

A spokesman said: “Flybe plans to add 38 routes over the next three years, but there are no further details as yet. Further announcements will be made in due course.”

In a conference call with journalists, Mr Hammad said: “Flybe is built on a powerful concept of connecting regions. We are moving on to a growth footing.”

Earlier this month, Flybe said it expected to implement fewer job losses than previously announced, as its turnaround gained momentum.

The group reduced the number of positions facing the axe by 10 per cent to around 450, with roughly 40 to 60 compulsory redundancies.

Flybe saw the end of an era last November when the family trust of late steel magnate Jack Walker sold its entire shareholding.

The Walker family trust, which took on the assets of the northern businessman and former Blackburn Rovers football club owner, was the majority shareholder of Flybe through Rosedale Aviation Holdings before offloading its 48.1 per cent stake for £25.2m.

It cut long-held ties with the Walker family, originally formed in 1983 when Mr Walker’s steel business took over the then Jersey European Airways, which was later rebranded British European before becoming Flybe in 2002.

At the time, Mr Hammad hailed the move as a “milestone” after the shares were snapped up by new and existing investors.

There has been speculation that shareholders, including billionaire US investor George Soros, increased their stakes in the group.