Flybe seen flying again in 2021 after administrators agree to sale

FILE PHOTO: A Flybe plane takes off from Manchester Airport in Manchester, Britain January 13, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - Regional airline Flybe will be sold to a firm affiliated with investment adviser Cyrus Capital and may start flying again from 2021, its joint administrators said on Monday, months after the British firm became one of the first pandemic casualties.

A plunge in demand for air travel since the start of this year due to the coronavirus crisis pushed Flybe into administration in March and put around 2,400 jobs at risk.

Flybe, which was the largest independent regional airline in Europe, operated between 81 airports and was owned by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group STOB.L and Cyrus Capital.

EY, the administrators of the collapsed firm, said it had agreed to a sale of Flybe’s business and assets, including the brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment, to Thyme Opco Ltd.

“While we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK,” a Thyme Opco spokesperson said.

The deal is expected to allow Flybe to re-start operations as a regional airline in the UK under the Flybe brand in early 2021, the joint administrators said, adding that the transaction is still subject to certain confidential conditions.

Airlines across the globe have been operating at a low capacity due to coronavirus restrictions, as business travel declines and people remain wary of travelling.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Rashmi Aich