Airline Flybe puts itself up for sale in wake of profit warning


Shares in the airline raised slightly this morning on news that it was putting itself up for sale.

The airline's board has confirmed it was "in discussions with a number of strategic operators about a potential sale of the company" and was also reviewing other options including cutting flights.

Flybe now operates 204 routes serving 15 countries from 80 departure points in the United Kingdom 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.

The airline had previously planned to merge with FTSE 250 transport services provider Stobart Group (LON:STOB), before the deal was abandoned earlier this year.

"These options include further capacity and cost saving measures, initiatives to strengthen the balance sheet and preserve cash resources, as well as a potential sale of the company through the commencement of a formal sale process".

Flybe has appointed Evercore as its financial adviser, and the airline warned that there "can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made".

It serves around eight million passengers a year, but has been struggling to recover from a costly IT overhaul and has been trying to reduce costs.

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The announcement came as the airline announced its profits for the six months from April to September had halved to £7.4m, compared with the same spell in 2017.

Capacity fell by 9 per cent, while revenue per seat rose by 7.2 per cent.

In 2011, the company named one of its Q400 aircraft in memory of Adam Stansfield and, at the start of the last season, they launched a special Flybe-inspired kit during City's 2-0 win over Grimsby at St James Park.

In October, the carrier issued its profit warning, which chief executive Christine Ourmières-Widener blamed a lack of growth in the short-haul market, higher fuel costs and a weaker pound.

Basic earnings per share dropped by more than half to 3.5p, and Flybe said it will not pay a dividend.

"We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business, especially further capacity reduction, cash management and cost savings", she added.