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Connect Airways, the consortium consisting of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital, has received clearance from the European Commission to complete its acquisition of regional carrier Flybe.
The consortium had already acquired Flybe’s assets for £2.8 million in February but was waiting for the green light from competition authorities to buy the company for 1p per share after receiving approval from the previous shareholders.
Connect Airways says the EC go-ahead secures the airline’s long-term future, with the leadership teams from Flybe and Stobart Air turning their attentions to plans to grow the carrier’s regional network and expand Stobart’s franchise business.
Last month, Connect appointed Mark Anderson as its CEO. Commenting on the approval, Anderson said: “On behalf of Connect Airways, I couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity we have to build a strong platform in the UK and to grow our franchise flying operation in Ireland. Our whole team is focused on redefining the experience for our customers, as we rediscover the excitement and passion of being Europe’s largest regional airline.”
According to the consortium, securing Flybe’s future will provide more choice for passengers through improved connectivity between UK regional airports and Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network.
The company plans to transition Flybe to the Virgin brand and will announce changes “in due course”.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said: “Mark and his team at Connect Airways have an amazing opportunity ahead of them. At Virgin Atlantic we recognise the value of great partnerships, and the network and connectivity benefits they offer customers. I’m excited to build on the successful partnership Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed with Flybe – and how we can enhance the experience for our mutual customers, once Connect Airways joins the Virgin family and operates under its new brand.”
Flybe is also expected to appoint a new airline CEO soon, with Christine Ourmieres-Widener stepping down from the role later this month.