Category Archives: Stobart Air

European Commission approves of the acquisition of Flybe by Connect Airways

Flyby's last and soon to be short-lived livery

The European Commission has issued this decision:

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of UK regional air carrier Flybe by Connect Airways, a consortium by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus. The decision is conditional on full compliance with commitments offered by Connect Airways.

This decision concerns the proposed acquisition by Connect Airways of (i) Flybe, (ii) Propius Holdings Ltd (“Propius”, Stobart Aviation’s aircraft leasing business) and (iii) Stobart Air Unlimited Company (“Stobart Air”, Stobart Aviation’s operating airline business).

Connect Airways is a consortium founded by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus. Through the consortium, the three companies will jointly control Flybe, Propius and Stobart Air following the merger.

The Commission’s merger investigation

The Commission investigated the impact of the proposed transaction on the market for air transport of passengers on routes from British airports to other European airports as well as some intra-UK routes.

The Commission’s investigation found that the transaction, as initially notified, would have led to quasi-monopolies on two direct European routes, namely Birmingham – Amsterdam and Birmingham – Paris.

This quasi-monopoly situation would result from Air France-KLM acquiring indirect control over Flybe, via its joint control over Virgin Atlantic. The Commission approved the joint acquisition of Virgin Atlantic by Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin group in February 2019. The Commission also noted that entry of competitors into these routes would be difficult, considering that both Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports are very congested airports.

The Commission also investigated the effects of the transaction on several other markets, such as passenger air transport to/from Amsterdam Schiphol airport, cargo air transport services, ground-handling services or airport infrastructure services but did not find competition concerns in any of these.

The proposed remedies

To address the competition concerns identified by the Commission with regard to the Birmingham – Amsterdam and Birmingham – Paris routes, Connect Airways offered a set of commitments.

Connect Airways committed to the release of five daily slot pairs at Amsterdam Schiphol airport and three daily slot pairs at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Under the proposed commitments, these slots will be released to competing airlines that want to fly the Birmingham – Amsterdam and Birmingham – Paris routes.

The commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission regarding Connect Airways’ acquisition of Flybe. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the final commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns. This decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.

The Commission’s derogation decision of February 21, 2019

Under the EU Merger Regulation, companies have the obligation not to implement a notifiable transaction before it has been declared compatible with the common market (Article 7(1) of the EU Merger Regulation). This serves to avoid that competition could be harmed beyond repair before the Commission has taken its decision. At the same time, EU merger rules enable the Commission to give a temporary approval for certain parts of a transaction (on the basis of Article 7(3) of the Merger Regulation) in a way that does not harm effective competition, and in order to avoid negative effects for consumers.

On 21 February 2019, the Commission granted Connect Airways such a derogation. As a result, Connect Airways was allowed to acquire Flybe’s shares prior to the merger clearance, subject to strict conditions, in particular related to voting rights. The derogation decision helped prevent flight cancellations to the detriment of consumers and helped avoid staff layoffs, while the merger review was ongoing.

Companies and products

Flybe, based in the UK, is a British regional airline with a focus on short-haul, point-to-point flights. It currently operates 190 routes serving 12 countries from 73 departure points in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Cyrus, based in the US, is an investment adviser and an investor in public and private airlines.

Stobart Group, based in Guernsey, is active in aviation and infrastructure markets, including (i) operating regional airline Stobart Air and (ii) developing London Southend Airport.

Virgin Atlantic, is the ultimate holding company of international passenger airline Virgin Atlantic Airways and international tour operator Virgin Holidays. Virgin Atlantic is currently controlled by Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines. On 12 February 2019, the Commission cleared unconditionally the proposed acquisition of joint control by Virgin Group, Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM over Virgin Atlantic.

Air France-KLM, based in France, is the holding company of Air France, the French national carrier airline and KLM, the Dutch national carrier airline. The company provides passenger air transport services, cargo air transport services and maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

Connect Airways issued this statement:

Connect Airways Limited (Connect Airways) has received merger control clearance from the European Commission for its acquisition of Flybe Limited (Flybe), Propius Holdings Ltd (Propius), and its investment in Stobart Air Unlimited Company (Stobart Air), securing Flybe’s long-term future and providing more choice for customers across the UK.

With Connect Airways taking over full management control of the business, Mark Anderson (CEO, Connect Airways) and with the leadership teams from Flybe and Stobart Air will now focus on plans to grow Flybe’s regional network, as well as expanding Stobart Air’s successful franchise business.

Connect Airways will offer significant benefits for customers:

  • A foundation to secure Flybe’s long-term future, building on the strong financial backing and expertise of  Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus
  • More choice for customers through improved connectivity between UK regional airports and Virgin Atlantic’s extensive long-haul network, particularly at London Heathrow and Manchester Airports
  • An enhanced customer experience in line with the Virgin brand, which Connect Airways will use in due course
  • A leading franchise-flying business, via its investment in Stobart Air’s market-leading proposition

Work is also underway to develop an exciting new brand and customer proposition, which will be announced in due course.

Top Copyright Photo: This will be Flybe’s last livery which was very limited and now short-lived. Flybe (British European 2nd) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) G-JECP (msn 4136) SOU (Antony J. Best). Image: 946881.

Flybe aircraft slide show:

 

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Connect Airways completes its acquisition of Flybe

Connect Airways has acquired Stobart Air and its aircraft leasing division for £40 million and completed the purchase of Flybe for £2.8 million.

Connect Airways is a British consortium, was formed in December 2018 to acquire the assets of Flybe, which had put itself up for sale in November 2018 after issuing a profit warning in October 2018.

The purchase of the operating assets of the Flybe Group was completed on February 21, 2019.

The Combined Group intends for Flybe to continue as an independent operating carrier with a separate UK Air Operator Certificate (AOC) under the Virgin Atlantic brand. Stobart Air is intended to continue under a separate Irish AOC.

The Combined Group will operate independently to Virgin Atlantic under one management team, owned 40% by Cyrus Capital Partners, 30% by Stobart Aviation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stobart Group, and 30% by Virgin Atlantic Limited, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays.

Flybe issued this short statement:

The confirmation of the sale of Flybe to Connect Airways secures an exciting future for our customers and employees as we continue to provide vital regional connectivity in the UK and beyond. Our confirmed schedule operates as normal.

Stobart Air to operate an Embraer 195 for KLM Cityhopper

Stobart Air, partner to leading airlines including Aer Lingus, Flybe and British Airways CityFlyer has secured a new partnership with KLM Cityhopper.

The agreement between the two airlines will see Stobart Air provide an E195 jet on an ACMI contract (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) for the purpose of operating up to eight flights per day from Amsterdam, including Dublin to Amsterdam.

The partnership with one of the world’s oldest and most established airlines, follows Stobart Air’s recent €36 million investment in two Embraer E190 jet aircraft to service routes for BA Cityflyer from London City Airport, and the addition of 40 new jobs.

Headquartered in Dublin, Stobart Air employs over 570 people.

In 2018, Stobart Air’s overall passenger figures increased by 12% on the previous year, with the airline carrying 2,224,037 passengers on over 43,500 flights throughout the year.

The airline reported a significant increase on its Flybe routes from London Southend Airport, with passenger numbers doubling last year to 500,000.

 

Cash-strapped Flybe to be sold to a consortium including Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic Airways, will be rebranded

Flybe has announced it is being sold to a consortium involving Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Virgin Atlantic has a 30 percent interest in the consortium along with the Stobart Group. Stobart Air already operates flights under the Flybe brand.

 

This will be the end of the Flybe brand. The airline will be rebranded under the Virgin Atlantic brand.

Cyrus Capital Partners, a hedge fund, will control the remaining 40 percent share the consortium called Connect Airways.

Flybe issued this formal statement:

RECOMMENDED CASH OFFER for FLYBE GROUP PLC by CONNECT AIRWAYS LIMITED
(a company jointly-owned by DLP Holdings S.à. r.l., Stobart Aviation Limited and Virgin Travel Group Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic Limited)

Summary

  • Following the announcement on November 14, 2018 and the launch of the Formal Sale Process with respect to Flybe, the Boards of Flybe and Connect Airways announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer for Flybe by Connect Airways pursuant to which Connect Airways will acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Flybe.
  • Under the terms of the Acquisition, Flybe Shareholders will be entitled to receive:

    one (1) pence in cash for each Flybe Share

    which values the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Flybe at approximately £2.2 million on the basis of the fully diluted share capital of 216,656,776 Flybe Shares.

  • Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have engaged with Flybe in a collaborative due diligence process since the commencement of the Formal Sale Process, and have formulated the Offer Price after careful review of the due diligence information, the capital needs of Flybe, the challenging trading environment and prevailing market conditions.
  • Concurrently with announcing the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have committed to make available a £20 million bridge loan facility to support Flybe’s ongoing working capital and operational requirements.
  • In addition, following completion of the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic are intending to provide up to £80 million of further funding to the Combined Group to invest in its business and support its growth, as well as a contribution of Stobart Air.
  • It is intended that the Acquisition will be effected by means of a Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement between Flybe and the Scheme Shareholders under Part 26 of the Companies Act.
  • The Acquisition is subject to a number of Conditions and further terms, including the approval of the Scheme by the Scheme Shareholders by the requisite majorities and the sanctioning of the Scheme by the Court. The Conditions are set out in full in Part A of Appendix 1 to this Announcement.

    Connect Airways

  • Connect Airways is a joint venture company the share capital of which is owned 40% by DLP Holdings, S.à. r.l., a company wholly-owned by funds managed by Cyrus, 30% by Stobart Aviation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stobart Group, and 30% by Virgin Travel Group Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited and Virgin Holidays Limited.
  • It is also expected that, immediately prior to completion of the Acquisition, Connect Airways will acquire Stobart Air, Stobart Group’s regional airline and aircraft leasing business. The combined group is expected to bring benefits to customers, suppliers and employees, providing stability in a tough trading environment.
  • Combined Group
    • Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic believe that combining Flybe and Stobart Air in a more integrated commercial cooperation with Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul operations will create a fully-fledged UK network carrier under the Virgin Atlantic brand, alongside Stobart Air’s wet lease operations and aircraft leasing business which will continue to operate as it does today.
    • Such a combination would be a compelling proposition with a comprehensive regional network in the UK and Ireland coupled with an enhanced European footprint, providing greater choice and connectivity for customers to travel to destinations all over the world.
    • The Acquisition will enable Flybe to benefit from committed strategic investment partners in terms of Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic (through Connect Airways) and from an enhanced presence at London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport with potential to grow further in London Southend Airport.
    • The Acquisition and combination with franchise airline, Stobart Air, will provide the Combined Group with an opportunity to increase passenger numbers at London Southend Airport, accelerating its growth for UK and European air travel.

      Recommendation and support for the offer

    • The Flybe Board, who have been advised by Evercore (who are providing independent financial advice to the Flybe Board for the purposes of Rule 3 of the Code) as to the financial terms of the Acquisition, considers the terms of the Acquisition to be fair and reasonable. In providing its financial advice to the Flybe Directors, Evercore has taken into account the commercial assessments of the Flybe Directors.
    • Accordingly, the Flybe Directors believe that the terms of the Acquisition are in the best interests of Flybe Shareholders as a whole and unanimously recommend that Flybe Shareholders vote in favour of the resolutions to be proposed at the Court Meeting and the Flybe General Meeting (or, in the event that the Acquisition is implemented by way of a Takeover Offer, to accept or procure the acceptance of such Takeover Offer).

This revised 2018 livery will be very short-lived (just one aircraft):

Virgin Atlantic issued this statement:

 

The Boards of Flybe and Connect Airways, a company bringing together Virgin Atlantic Limited, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital, are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer for Flybe. Following which Connect Airways will acquire the entire issued, and to be issued, share capital of Flybe. Stobart Group will contribute Stobart Air and Propius, Stobart’s aircraft leasing business into Connect Airways.

Concurrently with announcing the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have committed to make available a £20 million bridge loan facility to support Flybe’s ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

In addition, following completion of the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic are intending to provide up to £80 million of further funding to the Combined Group to invest in its business and support its growth, as well as a contribution of Stobart Air.

Flybe will continue to serve customers and communities across the UK and Ireland. In due course Flybe will be rebranded to Virgin Atlantic.

The Combined Group will offer significant benefits for customers:

  • Deliver more choice to customers by linking UK regions and Ireland to Virgin Atlantic’s extensive long-haul network through improved connectivity at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow
  • Provide a strong foundation to secure the long-term future of Flybe, its customers and its people by leveraging the combined commercial, operational and functional expertise and scale of Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group
  • Utilise the strength of the Virgin Atlantic brand, and the offer of an enhanced customer experience in keeping with Virgin Atlantic’s heritage
  • Provide the Combined Group with an enhanced presence at Manchester Airport , London Heathrow Airport, with the potential to grow further in London Southend Airport

The Combined Group intends for Flybe to continue as an independent operating carrier with a separate UK Air Operator Certificate (AOC) under the Virgin Atlantic brand. Stobart Air is intended to continue under a separate Irish AOC.

The Combined Group will operate independently to Virgin Atlantic under one management team, owned 40% by Cyrus Capital Partners, 30% by Stobart Aviation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stobart Group, and 30% by Virgin Atlantic Limited, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays.

Christine Ourmieres-Widener, Flybe’s CEO said:

“Flybe plays a vital role in the UK’s transport infrastructure with a UK regional network which uniquely positions it to benefit from growing demands from long haul carriers for passenger feeder traffic. We have successfully implemented a clear strategy in recent years focused on tighter fleet management, improving revenue per seat and increasing load factors. The pursuit of operational excellence has reduced maintenance times and increased efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

“However, the industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit. We have been affected by all of these factors which has put pressure on short-term financial performance. At the same time, Flybe suffered from a number of legacy issues that are being addressed but are still adversely affecting cashflows.

“By combining to form a larger, stronger, group, we will be better placed to withstand these pressures. We aim to provide an even better service to our customers and secure the future for our people.”

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic said:

“The Virgin Atlantic brand is built on the foundation of putting customers at the heart of everything we do, providing them with the choice they deserve and a travel experience they love. All possible because of our amazing people.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital to bring Virgin Atlantic service excellence to Flybe’s customers. Together, we can provide greater connectivity to our extensive long haul network and that of our joint venture partners Delta Air Lines, at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow. In the near future, this will only increase, through our expanded joint venture partnership with Air France-KLM.”

Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group said:

“The Board of Stobart Group believes that bringing Stobart Air together with Flybe and partnering with Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital is the best way for us to play an active role in regional airline consolidation.

“The combined entity will be a powerful combination with sufficient scale to compete effectively in the UK and European airline markets. It will allow us to continue to work with Flybe and provides an excellent opportunity to continue to grow passenger numbers at London Southend Airport.”

Lucien Farrell, Partner of Cyrus said:

“We are delighted to be working once again with the Virgin Group following our successful partnership in the launch and eventual sale of Virgin America to Alaska Airlines. We believe Flybe’s strong market position and high quality management together with Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to the best customer experience and Stobart Group’s expertise in regional flying will produce a worldclass airline.

Aer Lingus to restore the Dublin-East Midlands route on February 4, 2015

Aer Lingus (Dublin) is restoring the Dublin-East Midlands route on February 4, 2015. The restored route will be operated daily by Stobart Air (formerly Aer Arann) (Dublin) ATR 72s as an Aer Lingus Regional carrier.

Read the full story from Dublin Airport: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Rob Skinkis/AirlinersGallery.com. ATR 72-212A (ATR 72-500) EI-REL (msn 748) departs from Manchester.

Aer Lingus: AG Slide Show

Aer Lingus Regional-Aer Arann: AG Slide Show

 

Stobart Air sets new passenger records for the Aer Lingus Regional operation in May

Stobart Air (formerly Aer Arann) (Dublin) has issued this statement for its expanding Aer Lingus Regional operation:

Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, has announced a 35% increase in passenger numbers for the month of May 2014 compared to the same month last year. It represents the eleventh consecutive month of passenger growth for the airline.

May 2014 was a record breaking month for the airline as it flew 122,079 passengers, 31,589 more than May 2013 and 1,191 more than the previous record set in August 2013.

Total passenger numbers for the year to date are up 23% compared to this time last year. Passenger numbers on the airline’s Dublin routes were up 49%, with the Dublin-Kerry route seeing an increase of 21% in May. The Dublin–Bristol route saw an increase of 22% due to the deployment of new aircraft on the route and an increase to three daily flights for the summer months.

Aer Lingus Regional passenger numbers from the UK connecting to trans-Atlantic flights has more than doubled in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2013. This was due to Aer Lingus’ new San Francisco and Toronto services. Boston and New York bound passengers from Birmingham and Manchester via Shannon Airport has proven to be very popular

Passenger numbers on the airline’s Cork services saw a second consecutive month of growth with an 11% increase from the same month last year. The Cork-Bristol route increased by 14%, while the Cork-Manchester route saw a 17% increase in May.

A focus on providing services for major sporting events continued to be a key driver in passenger growth for the airline. May’s Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff contributed a 44% monthly increase in passenger numbers on the airline’s services to the Welsh capital alone.

Routes from Shannon Airport also saw a significant growth with a 15% increase in May compared to the same month last year.

‘May 2014 was a record period for us and our eleventh successive month of passenger growth. New and expanded routes, along with our investment in new aircraft are resonating with passengers. It is notably that growth is occurring across the network and at each of our bases in Dublin, Shannon and Cork.’

Copyright Photo: SM Fitzwilliams Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. ATR 42-300 EI-CBK (msn 199) arrives back at Dublin.

Stobart Air logo

Aer Lingus Regional: AG Slide Show

 

Stobart Air becomes a Flybe franchise

Stobart Group logo-1

Stobart Air (formerly Aer Arann) (Dublin) has agreed a partnership with Flybe which will see Stobart Air operate services to mainland Europe. As part of a five-year deal, Stobart Air will operate Flybe-branded aircraft on six new European routes from London Southend Airport. All routes will fly from London Southend Airport to Antwerp, Rennes, Caen Normandy, Münster Osnabrück, Cologne Bonn and Groningen.

Stobart Air-Flybe 6 routes from SEN

Flybe logo

With the addition of the franchise agreement with Flybe, Stobart Air operates 764 flights per week across 33 routes from 22 departure points throughout the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Ireland.

Stobart Air is owned by the Stobart Group along with other investors. Stobart Group’s aviation assets comprise London Southend Airport; Carlisle Lake District Airport; Stobart Air; plus air freight, maintenance and airport services.

Stobart Air also operates franchise flights for Aer Lingus as Aer Lingus Regional.

Aer Lingus Regional-Aer Arann logo

Aer Arann: AG Slide Show