Velocity Frequent Flyer members could soon have more options when flying in Europe. Flybe, a large but struggling regional airline based in the UK, is set to be taken over by Virgin Atlantic. This presents some interesting possibilities for Australian frequent flyers.
Loss-making Flybe has been up for sale since November of last year. Yesterday, it was announced that a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group was looking to take over the airline. If the deal goes ahead – and it’s likely that it will – Flybe services will be rebranded as Virgin Atlantic flights and will be used to feed into Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network.
Flybe operates a fleet of over 70 Dash 8s and Embraer E-Jets. It serves over 20 airports in the UK and many more destinations across the European continent.
What the Flybe takeover would mean for Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic currently has a solid network of point-to-point long-haul flights from its hubs in London and Manchester. But it lacks a network of short-haul flights within Europe to feed passengers into this long-haul network. Flybe serves many destinations across the UK and Europe from both London and Manchester (in addition to its many other regional routes). The takeover would allow Virgin Atlantic to compete with British Airways – and other network carriers – for passengers connecting through London to/from other cities in Europe.
Virgin Atlantic previously attempted to operate a limited domestic network in the UK in order to feed passengers into its long-haul operation. “Little Red”, as the airline was known, commenced operations in 2013 and had a fleet of just four aircraft flying from London to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But the experiment was a financial disaster and Little Red ceased operations just two years later.
What a Flybe takeover by Virgin Atlantic means for frequent flyers
If the deal goes ahead, it should be good news for Virgin Australia Velocity members. Since the collapse of Airberlin in 2017, Virgin’s only partner airline offering flights within Europe is Italy’s Alitalia. But if Flybe is absorbed into Virgin Atlantic – a Velocity partner – this should open up their extensive network of regional European flights to Velocity members. In theory, Velocity members should soon be able to earn and redeem Velocity points on these flights.
Flybe is currently an Etihad Airways partner and it is possible to redeem Etihad Guest miles for Flybe flights. The takeover would probably mark the end of this partnership. But, at least from an Australian perspective, that’s not too much of a loss.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin Atlantic in flybe rescue talks