EI-EZW A320 Virgin Atlantic
Image Source: Mark Harkin
Virgin Atlantic has previously attempted to crack the UK domestic market
Richard Bell

Virgin Atlantic in talks over Flybe takeover

Virgin Atlantic is in talks for a potential takeover of struggling regional carrier Flybe.

The airline has opened discussions with Flybe’s advisers to make an offer, according to Sky News, after it went up for sale last week.

The takeover bid is not the first time Virgin Atlantic, which is part-owned by British magnate Sir Richard Branson, has tried to crack the regional UK market.

In 2013 the firm launched its own domestic subsidiary, Little Red, but it ceased operations less than two years later. Speaking in 2014, Sir Richard blamed the “meagre package of slots” it operated.

Sky News has reported that a Flybe takeover could feed passenger traffic into Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network. The tie-up would also offer access to take-off and landing slots ring-fenced for domestic flights at Heathrow Airport.

Investment bank Rothschild is advising Virgin Atlantic on the potential takeover.

In September, Flybe warned that falling consumer demand, a weakened pound and rising fuel costs would push its full-year losses to £22m.

Shares in the company have since fallen by double figures. At Thursday’s (November 22) closing share price, it had a market capitalisation of £20m.

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