Stobart Group has confirmed an interest in acquiring part or all or regional airline Flybe following press speculation.
The logistics group and Flybe have a range of shared interests arising from Stobart’s ownership of London Southend Airport and the growing franchise arrangements between the two groups’ airlines.
“As previously disclosed in October 2017, we have been reviewing alternative structures for our airline and leasing business that can play an important part in the consolidation of the regional airline sector,” Stobart Group said in a statement.
“A number of potential structures have been considered including taking a non-controlling interest in a vehicle to acquire 100 per cent of Flybe likely to be in cash.
“It is not possible to say, at this stage, whether a transaction will take place, whether a firm proposal will be made or, if it is, the form a transaction to combine the airlines might take.”
A further announcement will be made in due course, the company added, with market rules dictating a decision on a possible move must be made by March 22nd at the latest.
Flybe urged its shareholders to take no action at this stage, however stock prices rise more than 30 per cent following the release of the statement.
“There can be no certainty that any firm offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any firm offer might be made,” the airline said.
Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline and flies more UK domestic flights than any other airline –more than half of all UK flights within mainland Britain.
Flybe currently operates 211 routes serving 15 countries from 80 departure points in the UK and Europe and is the largest scheduled airline by air traffic movements at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Isle of Man, Jersey, Newquay and Southampton airports.
Flybe operates a fleet of 81 aircraft – 56 Bombardier Q400, nine Embraer E195, 11 E175, and five ATR 72s.