Flybe to be rebranded as Virgin Connect

A Flybe Dash 8-400 at London City Airport. Photo © Matt Griffin

The Connect Airways consortium has announced that UK regional airline Flybe will be rebranded as Virgin Connect in 2020.

Tuesday’s announcement states that, as the Flybe brand transforms into Virgin Connect, “We’ll be saying goodbye to purple and hello to red…”. It also claims to remain ‘faithful’ to the airlines 40 year history, plans to grow and says that the company will be “offering our customers an enhanced customer experience, whilst continuing to connect the regions & our passengers to what matters most.” At present, all bookings can continue to be made through Flybe and existing bookings will not be affected by the rebranding.

Virgin Atlantic previously operated short haul routes from London Heathrow using a fleet of leased Airbus A320 aircraft under the name Virgin ‘Little Red’ using routes left over from BMI (British Midland) when it was bought and split by British Airways parent company IAG and Lufthansa in 2012, but the venture wound up in 2015 due to poor demand and fierce competition from British Airways.

Connect Airways is made up of a 30% share from both Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air, with Cyprus Capital Partners owning the remaining 40%. The British consortium placed a bid for an acquisition of Flybe in January 2019 for £2.8 million, with a subsequent £80 million investment to keep the financially struggling airline afloat. The takeover was officially approved by the European Commission in July.

Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline, operating a fleet of 76 aircraft, comprised of De Havilland Dash 8-400 and Embraer E-Jets to 85 destinations around Europe.