Flybe has announced that it has agreed in principle to acquire BA Connect from British Airways. The deal would include all of BA Connect’s operations except for the services from London City, which would retained by British Airways along with the Avro RJs necessary to operate them. The Manchester-New York service, operated by a mainline Boeing 767 with BA Connect cabin crew, is also excluded, as are ground handling operations. The move would more than double Flybe’s size, making it Europe’s largest regional airline. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, except for the fact that British Airways will receive a 15% stake in Flybe. British Airways and Flybe hope to complete the deal within three months. There would then be an accelerated transition period, until Flybe is in full control by the start of the summer schedule on 25 March 2007. BA Connect currently operates ten Avro RJ100s and four BAe 146s, in addition to eight Bombardier Dash 8-300s and 28 Embraer ERJ 145s. British Airways will retain some (perhaps all) the RJ100s. Flybe has indicated that it planned to replace BA Connect’s entire current fleet with additional Embraer 195s and Bombardier Q400s. Whether any of BA Connect’s RJ100s or BAe 146s will ever wear Flybe colors is thus unclear, and will likely depend on how rapidly the airline can ramp up ERJ 195 deliveries.
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