The airline with more flights from Aberdeen than any other may soon be under new ownership.
Flybe, which operates services between the Granite City and airports including London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast, plus Stavanger in Norway under a partnership with Eastern Airways, said yesterday it was mulling “various strategic options”, including a possible sale.
Flybe flights from Inverness and other Scottish airports would also be affected if financial adviser Evercore recommends a sale of the London-listed firm.
Other options include more capacity and cost-saving measures, and action to strengthen the Exeter airline’s balance sheet and preserve cash.
Flybe – Europe’s largest regional carrier – announced its “comprehensive review” as it also revealed statutory pre-tax profits more than halved year-on-year, to £7.4 million, during the six months to September 30.
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Revenue also fell to £409.2m, from £419.2m a year earlier, after a 9% reduction in fleet capacity.
The airline said figures were knocked by revaluation losses on aircraft loans, highlighting instead a near-50% jump in adjusted profits to £14m.
Flybe said it was talking to “a number of strategic operators” about a potential sale, which boosted the firm’s shares in early trading in the City.
It comes just weeks after the airline issued a profit warning following falling demand and a £29m hit from rising fuel costs and a weak pound.
Yesterday, Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said: “There has been a recent softening in growth in the short-haul market, as well as continued headwinds from higher fuel and currency costs.
“We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business.”
The British Airline Pilots’ Association said Flybe staff would be “very worried” to hear the company was up for sale. It also said it would scrutinise any offers in order to protect jobs.