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Virgin Atlantic eyes Heathrow slots as it considers Flybe purchase

Flybe and Virgin Atlantic are reportedly in talks about a sale or closer alliance a few weeks after cash-strapped Flybe put itself up for sale earlier in November.

Last month, Flybe warned that its full-year losses would amount to £22 million due to falling consumer demand, a weaker pound and higher fuel costs.

Flybe added that there was no certainty that an offer would be made by Virgin and Virgin said it was “reviewing its options in respect of Flybe which range from enhanced commercial arrangements to a possible offer for Flybe”.

Earlier this month, Flybe said it was “in discussions with a number of strategic operators about a potential sale of the company”.
Closer ties or a takeover of Flybe could prove beneficial to Virgin giving it access to the regional carrier’s sought-after slots at Heathrow Airport.

Flybe’s London traffic could also act as a feeder into Virgin’s predominantly transatlantic long-haul network out of Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.

The regional carrier has a fleet of 78 aircraft serving eight million passengers a year and much of its routes are away from Heathrow and Gatwick, from the likes of London City, Southampton, Cardiff, Belfast City, Aberdeen and Norwich to destinations in the UK and Europe.

This story was originally reported by Justin Burns, associate editor, ARGS magazine here.