Connect Airways is a consortium founded by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners

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Connect Airways confirms receipt of EC approval of Flybe acquisition, securing the airline’s long-term future

  • European Commission formally approves Connect Airways acquisition of Flybe, Stobart Air and Propius
  • Mark Anderson to formally assume role as CEO of the new business

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.

Comment from Lucien Farrell, Chairman, Connect Airways: 

“Today is an important day as Connect Airways takes full control of Flybe, bringing the team together with Stobart Air. Under Mark’s leadership, the company has the opportunity to create a world-class offering for customers, combining a highly successful franchise flying business with Europe’s largest regional airline. I wish Mark and the team every success.”

Comment from Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic:

“Mark and his team at Connect Airways have an amazing opportunity ahead of them. At Virgin Atlantic we recognise the value of great partnerships, and the network and connectivity benefits they offer customers. I’m excited to build on the successful partnership Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed with Flybe – and how we can enhance the experience for our mutual customers, once Connect Airways joins the Virgin family and operates under its new brand.”

Comment from Warwick Brady, CEO, Stobart Group:

“We are building a talented team capable of establishing a well-structured, profitable airline. From today, that team are building an exciting future based on a low-cost customer-centric regional connectivity strategy. I am excited for the future of this business.”

Comment from Mark Anderson, CEO, Connect Airways:

“On behalf of Connect Airways, I couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity we have to build a strong platform in the UK and to grow our franchise flying operation in Ireland. Our whole team is focused on redefining the experience for our customers, as we rediscover the excitement and passion of being Europe’s largest regional airline.”

ENDS

 

For more information contact:

Maitland / AMO                     020 7379 5151

Andy Donald                             adonald@maitland.co.uk            

Finlay Donaldson                    fdonaldson@maitland.co.uk

 

About Connect Airways

Connect Airways is an English limited company the share capital of which is owned 30% by Stobart Aviation Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stobart Group Limited, 30% Virgin Travel Group Limited, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, and 40% by DLP Holdings S.à.r.l., a Luxembourg company wholly-owned by funds managed by Cyrus Capital Partners LP.

Connect Airways has acquired Flybe and Stobart Air's wet lease operations and aircraft leasing business.  The Combined Group is expected to bring benefits to customers, suppliers and employees, providing stability in an extremely tough trading environment.

 

About Flybe

Flybe is Europe's largest regional airline and flies more UK domestic flights than any other airline: 53% of all UK flights within mainland Britain (excluding London). Flybe currently operates 189 routes serving 12 countries from 71 departure points in the UK and Europe (flown under the Flybe brand including all routes on sale April 2019 – March 2020) and is the largest scheduled airline by air traffic movements at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster, Sheffield, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, Manchester, Newquay and Southampton airports. Flybe operates a fleet of 76 aircraft – 54 Bombardier Q400, 6 Embraer E195, 11 E175 and 5 ATR 72s and was recognised as the most punctual UK-based airline (8th in Europe) in FlightGlobal’s annual On-Time Performance Awards (Jan ’19) and shared the top spot in the Which? ‘Best and Worst Airlines 2019’ report in the Short Haul Category (Jan ’19).

As well as its scheduled passenger regional airline services, charter and cargo transport services and white-label flying for third party airlines, Flybe’s training academy provides pilot, crew, engineering and other training services in-house and to third parties; and Flybe Aviation Services owns a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility servicing both internal and third party customers.

 

About Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 35 years ago with innovation and customer service at its core. Today Virgin Atlantic carries 5.4 million customers annually, and was recently voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX two years running in the Official Airline Ratings. Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic employs over 10,000 people worldwide and operates a fleet of 46 aircraft serving 27 destinations across four continents. Alongside joint venture partner Delta Air Lines, they operate a leading transatlantic network - offering up to 38 flights per day between the UK and US with onward connections to over 200 US and international cities. In summer 2019 Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of their first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft - helping to transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. Virgin Atlantic recently achieved the highest sustainability ranking of any airline globally with an A- Leadership rating in the 2018 Carbon Disclosure Project performance assessment.

On May 15, 2018 Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Limited signed definitive agreements to combine the existing trans-Atlantic joint ventures.  This transaction is in the process of regulatory clearance.  Upon completion the airlines’ expanded joint venture will become the preferred choice for customers travelling across the Atlantic offering the most comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers. Customers will also benefit from the co-location of facilities at key hub airports to improve connectivity and access to each carrier’s airport lounges for premium passengers.

For more information visit: www.virginatlantic.com  or www.virginholidays.co.uk or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @virginatlantic  @virginholidays

 

About Stobart Group

Stobart Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange under code STOB. It is focused on delivering growth in its Aviation and Energy divisions. Stobart Group also holds a portfolio of infrastructure assets and investments, and aims to add value to this portfolio, selling when appropriate.

Stobart Group’s Aviation Division invests in, develops and operates a number of aviation-related businesses focused on meeting the growing demand for airport capacity and improved customer experience. The Aviation Division comprises London Southend Airport and the Stobart Jet Centre, Stobart Aviation Services, Stobart Air and an aircraft leasing business, Propius. For more information visit: www.stobartgroup.co.uk or via twitter @stobartgroup.

 

About Cyrus

Cyrus was founded in 1999 and has offices in New York and London, managing over $4.4bn on a global basis in securities and loans issued by corporates and sovereigns.  Its client base is predominantly endowments, foundations and family offices with a significant portion of the assets under management being partner and employee capital.

 

Mark Anderson - CEO of Connect Airways

Connect Airways announces appointment of Mark Anderson as CEO

The Board of Connect Airways Limited (“Connect Airways”), the company jointly owned by Virgin Atlantic Limited (“Virgin Atlantic”), Stobart Group (“Stobart Group”) and funds managed by Cyrus Capital Partners (“Cyrus”), is delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Anderson as CEO, Connect Airways.  Connect Airways will acquire management control over Flybe Limited (“Flybe”), once merger clearance has been received from the European Commission under the EU Merger Regulation.  Mark joins Connect Airways from his current role as Executive Vice President - Customer, Virgin Atlantic. 

Since February 2017 Mark has successfully led the strategy, creation and delivery of the world famous Virgin Atlantic customer experience. In his role Mark was instrumental in putting Customer at the heart of Virgin Atlantic’s goal to be the most loved travel company.

Previously he was Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Virgin Holidays where in less than three years, he developed a high performing team that achieved record people engagement scores and operating profits with strong customer advocacy. He has over 25 years of senior management experience in retailing and travel.

Connect Airways is an independent airline operating under one management team and owned 40% by Cyrus, 30% by the Stobart Group and 30% by Virgin Atlantic.

Once merger clearance is received, Connect Airways will offer significant benefits for customers:

  • Provide a strong foundation to secure the long-term future of Flybe, building on the strong financial backing and expertise of  Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus
  • The new group will offer more choice by linking airports around the UK to Virgin Atlantic’s extensive long-haul network through improved connectivity, particularly at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow
  • Continued focus on maintaining Stobart Air’s position as the preeminent franchise-flying business
  • In due course, Connect Airways will use the strength of the Virgin brand, and offer an enhanced customer experience in line with this

 

Comment from Lucien Farrell, Chairman, Connect Airways: 

“On behalf of the entire Connect Airways Board, I’m delighted to appoint Mark as CEO of Connect Airways. Mark has a proven record of leadership, strategy and commercial delivery. I look forward to working closely with him and supporting the Connect Airways team as they set out to continue growing the business while transforming the experience customers can expect from regional flying in the UK.”

Comment from Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic:

“I’m delighted to see Mark appointed CEO of Connect Airways. As the team prepares to launch under a Virgin brand, Mark’s experience and insights from his time at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays will be invaluable. Under Mark’s watch, Virgin Atlantic was recently voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX two years running in the Official Airline Ratings. With his absolute focus on customers and business performance, I can think of no better leader to ensure Connect Airways is successful in achieving its ambitions.”

Comment from Warwick Brady, CEO, Stobart Group:

“Connect Airways represents a compelling financial and strategic opportunity. Having worked with Mark for some months I am confident he will build a talented team capable of establishing a well-structured, profitable airline. Under Mark’s leadership, we can develop a customer-centric regional connectivity strategy that incorporates London.”

Comment from Mark Anderson, CEO, Connect Airways:

“It’s a real privilege and honour for me to take on the leadership of Connect Airways, at this exciting time. We are focused on growing the airline while expanding our franchise business in Dublin, redefining what customers can expect from regional flying in the UK. We have all the building blocks in place: Flybe’s heritage and expertise in running Europe’s largest regional airline; the operational excellence and strength of Stobart Air; and in the near future, the magic of the Virgin brand. I can’t wait to get started with the team.”

ENDS

 

For more information contact:

Edward Bridges, FTI Consulting LLP (for Connect Airways)

Edward.Bridges@FTIConsulting.com

T: +44 203 727 1017

 

About Connect Airways

Connect Airways is an English limited company the share capital of which is owned 30% by Stobart Aviation Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stobart Group Limited, 30% Virgin Travel Group Limited, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, and 40% by DLP Holdings S.à.r.l., a Luxembourg company wholly-owned by funds managed by Cyrus Capital Partners LP.

Connect Airways has also acquired Stobart Group's airline operations and aircraft leasing business.  The Combined Group is expected to bring benefits to customers, suppliers and employees, providing stability in an extremely tough trading environment.

The ownership of entities in the Connect Airways Group has been structured in a manner which ensures compliance with applicable European and UK aviation regulations with respect to ownership and effective control of Stobart Air (which holds an air operator certificate issued by the government of the Republic of Ireland) and Flybe (which holds an air operator certificate issued by the government of the United Kingdom).

 

About Flybe

Flybe is Europe's largest regional airline and flies more UK domestic flights than any other airline  – 53% of all UK flights within mainland Britain (excluding London).  Flybe currently operates 187 routes serving 11 countries from 71 departure points in the UK and Europe* and is the largest scheduled airline by air traffic movements at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, Manchester, Newquay and Southampton airports**. Flybe operates a fleet of 76 aircraft – 54 Bombardier Q400, 6 Embraer E195, 11 E175 & 5 ATR 72s and was recognised as the most punctual UK-based airline (8th in Europe) in FlightGlobal’s annual On-Time Performance Awards (Jan’19) and shared top spot in the Which? ‘Best and Worst Airlines 2019’ report in the Short Haul Category (Jan’19)

*Flown under the Flybe brand including all routes on sale Apr 2019 – Oct 2019

**Source: CAA Aug ‘18

About Stobart Group

Stobart Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange under code STOB. It is focused on delivering growth in its Aviation and Energy divisions. Stobart Group also holds a portfolio of infrastructure assets and investments, and aims to add value to this portfolio, selling when appropriate.

Stobart Group’s Aviation Division invests in, develops and operates a number of aviation-related businesses focused on meeting the growing demand for airport capacity and improved customer experience. The Aviation Division comprises London Southend Airport and the Stobart Jet Centre, Stobart Aviation Services, Stobart Air and an aircraft leasing business, Propius. For more information visit: www.stobartgroup.co.uk or via twitter @stobartgroup

 

About Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 35 years ago with innovation and customer service at its core. Today Virgin Atlantic carries 5.4 million customers annually, and was recently voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX two years running in the Official Airline Ratings. Headquartered in Crawley, Virgin Atlantic employs more than 10,000 people worldwide and operates a fleet of 46 aircraft serving 27 destinations. Alongside joint venture partner Delta Air Lines they operate a leading transatlantic network - offering up to 38 flights per day between the UK and US with onward connections to over 200 US and international cities. In Summer 2019 Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of their first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft - helping to transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. Virgin Atlantic recently achieved the highest sustainability ranking of any airline globally with an A- Leadership rating in the 2018 Carbon Disclosure Project performance assessment.

On May 15, 2018 Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Limited signed definitive agreements to combine the existing trans-Atlantic joint ventures.  This transaction is in the process of regulatory clearance.  Upon completion the airlines’ expanded joint venture will become the preferred choice for customers travelling across the Atlantic offering the most comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers. Customers will also benefit from the co-location of facilities at key hub airports to improve connectivity and access to each carrier’s airport lounges for premium passengers. On March 4 2019, Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM announced a codeshare agreement, creating new transatlantic travel options to and from North America, making it easier for customers to build their ideal trip across the Atlantic by combining flights operated by Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Delta.

For more information visit: www.virginatlantic.com  or www.virginholidays.co.uk or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @virginatlantic  @virginholidays

About Cyrus

Cyrus was founded in 1999 and has offices in New York and London, managing over $4.4bn on a global basis in securities and loans issued by corporates and sovereigns.  Its client base is predominantly endowments, foundations and family offices with a significant portion of the assets under management being partner and employee capital.