Flybe failure: ‘Bid being made to nationalise regional carrier’

A bid is being made to nationalise failed regional carrier Flybe as the government ­increasingly intervenes in the coronavirus economy.

The accountancy firm acting as administrator of the airline has reportedly asked ministers to consider buying what was Europe’s biggest regional airline out of administration, according to the Sunday Telegraph, quoting industry sources.

The discussions are under way after a group representing more than 2,500 unemployed Flybe staff wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak last week urging him to take action so that they could access the coronavirus furloughed wage support.

They also want a state acquisition of the airline so that it can serve scores of loss-making regional routes.

Ministers relaxed rules late last week, allowing companies that failed during March to benefit from the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Flybe collapsed on March 5 after failing to secure a £100 million government bailout in the wake of the epidemic.

The airline’s shareholders, including Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, US hedge fund Cyrus Capital and Southend airport owner Stobart Group refused to pump in further funds after bookings slumped.

Former Flybe pilots and cabin crew claim the airline can be kept dormant during the lockdown.

The plea for help comes as Virgin Atlantic steps up its bid to secure a bailout after the government last week decided against offering an industry-wide solution.

Administrator EY declined to comment.

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