The European Commission has approved the acquisition of British regional carrier Flybe by Connect Airways, a consortium made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital.
Flybe completed the sale of its assets to Connect Airways in February. Services have continued as normal after the group offered the airline a £20 million bridge loan amid its financial difficulties.
It means the Flybe brand now looks set to disappear.
In a statement today, Connect Airways said: “Work is underway to develop an exciting new brand and customer proposition, which will be announced in due course.”
It added that it would be “an enhanced customer experience in line with the Virgin brand.”
It also said the airline would offer “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.”
In its decision, the European Commission said the takeover would lead to “quasi-monopolies on two direct European routes, namely Birmingham-Amsterdam and Birmingham-Paris.”
It ruled the airline must therefore release five daily slot pairs at Amsterdam Schiphol and three daily slot pairs at Paris Charles de Gaulle. These must be released to competing airlines that want to fly the routes.
Connect Airways was formed in January in order to make the Flybe bid. Member Stobart Group owns and operates London Southend Airport and fellow regional carrier Stobart Air.
Former Flybe CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener had announced she would step down following the takeover.
The airline’s new CEO is Mark Anderson, formerly the managing director of Virgin Holidays.
Anderson commented: “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.”
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “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.”