BA-Flybe deal finally concluded

After numerous delays, Flybe‘s takeover of BA Connect was finally concluded on 5 March. The two airlines had hoped to complete the deal before the end of 2006, but sorting out details such as BA Connect’s pension fund took much longer than expected and numerous deadlines came and went. Approval from the Office of Fair Trading was secured on 7 February. Just a few days later, however, the process took a step back when BA Connect cabin crew narrowly voted against transferring to Flybe. Nevertheless, talks continued and finally culminated in an agreement on 28 February, although some last-minute glitches delayed its announcement until 5 March. Although the company is now owned by Flybe, flights will continue under the BA Connect name until 25 March, when they will begin to operate as Flybe. British Airways will retain BA Connect’s fleet of Avro RJ100s, which it plans to operate through a new company, BA CityFlyer, on routes from London City. Flybe will take over BA Connect’s four BAe 146s (one series 100, two series 200s, and one series 300), as well as its Embraer 145s and Bombardier Dash 8s. However, the airline has announced its intention to retire all the inherited aircraft as rapidly as possible, so as to standardize on the Bombardier Q400 and Embraer 195. Delays in the delivery of the latter may mean, however, that BA Connect’s 146s, as well as Flybe’s own examples, will remain in the fleet for some time. Flybe intends to continue operating most BA Connect routes, but has already announced plans to terminate many that are unprofitable. This will include closing the entire Bristol base.

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