British regional airline Flybe has been saved after the British Government launched a rescue plan for the struggling company to the great dismay of rival airlines who complained about the bailout.
According to local media, the British Government has decided to bail out the struggling regional airline which was on the brink of collapse due to mounting financial losses. The government is currently working with the airline on a debt restructuring plan for an estimated tax debt of 100 million GBP. As part of the deal, Flybe airline bosses have reportedly agreed to pump extra money into the company as well.
Flybe’s airline rivals were not pleased with the move by the British Government, with low-cost airlines EasyJet and Ryanair speaking out against the bailout. EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said: “Taxpayers should not be used to bail out individual companies, especially when they are backed by well-funded businesses.”
Also Ryanair addressed the issue, writing to Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid that the proposed bailout would “constitute unlawful state aid”.
IAG, the airline group which owns British Airways, has even filed a complaint with the European Commission. It wants the European Commission to clear up whether or not the bailout constitutes state aid by the British Government – which according to EU laws is illegal in order to preserve a level playing field.
If the European Commission would indeed rule that the bailout would constitute unlawful state support, IAG demands the EU to overturn the deal between the British Government and Flybe.
Downing Street however announced that the proposed rescue deal would be “fully compliant” with all state-aid rules. A spokesman of PM Boris Johnson said that “there has been no state aid to Flybe” while adding that “any future funding will be made on strictly commercial terms”.
Flybe, which employs well over 2,000 people, has around 75 aeroplanes and serves some 80 destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe, making it Europe’s largest regional airline. With airport bases in places like Exeter, Devon, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, it is a key transport link for thousands of people who live in more faraway areas of the country without the benefits of easy access to the main London airports.
Local authorities which are dependent on the airline company, such as the local government of the Isle of Man, are also said to be watching the situation closely. Currently, airline operations are continuing as planned.
Flybe, a famous airline brand across Britain and neighbouring countries, is currently being rebranded to Virgin Connect as part of the earlier bailout and restructuring deal with Virgin Atlantic.
A previous airline statement read: “In 2020 Flybe will become Virgin Connect, your new go-to name in regional flying. As Flybe, we have been connecting passengers across the UK and Europe for 40 years and as we embark on an ambitious transformation, Virgin Connect will continue our work as Europe’s Largest Regional Airline.”
Airline news and flight deals