DALLAS – Today in aviation, British European Airways rebranded itself as low-cost carrier Flybe in 2002 to become Europe’s largest independent regional airline.
The airline can trace its history back to 1979 when Intra Airways and Express Air Services merged to form Jersey European Airways.
The airline went on to develop an extensive network across the UK and Europe, offering full-service scheduled flights. It was then rebranded as British European Airways in June 2000.
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But with the rise of low-cost carriers, management decided to rebrand in order to keep up with its emerging rivals. The new name and look formed part of a £10m marketing campaign in an attempt to give the struggling airline a wider appeal.
Speaking at the time, Jim French, the airline’s CEO said, “This new brand will bring us wider appeal, especially among the younger generation who have bought into the aggressive marketing and brand positioning of the low-cost carriers. These consumers have grown up with high-profile, price-driven retail marketing.”
E195 Launch Customer
In 2005, Flybe became the launch customer for the Embraer E195 after placing an order for 26 of the type. Then, in 2006, it took over British Airways’ (BA) ailing low-cost regional arm, BA Connect. This acquisition made Flybe the largest European regional airline overnight.
The airline struggled financially for a number of years. On January 11, 2019, a takeover by Connect Airways was confirmed, with the airline looking set to rebrand as Virgin Connect.
Sadly, Virgin Connect never took off. On March 5, 2020, Flybe ceased all operations, ending 41 years of operations.
On October 19, 2020, news broke that Lucien Farrell, in charge of the European division of previous shareholder Cyrus Capital, had founded a new business, Thyme Opco, with the intention of acquiring the Flybe name and relaunching the airline, subject to regulatory permissions.
Flybe stated on March 16, 2022, that Belfast would serve as the airline’s secondary operations base. Let’s flybe is used as a tagline, however, the company’s motto is Smile and go the additional mile. On April 13, 2022, the first flight between Birmingham and Belfast took occurred. With a fleet of up to 32 Q400 aircraft, the business planned to fly up to 530 trips every week on 23 different routes.
However, Flybe MK.II sadly entered administration for the second time on January 28, 2023, less than a year after restarting operations.
Featured image: Flybe G-ECOD Bombardier Dash 8-Q400. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways