Monday, February 11 10:31:10
Jim French, chief executive of British airline, Flybe, is in Dublin today to sell the deal announced last week with Ryanair to create a new carrier as part of a deal with Ryanair to satisfy regulatory concerns over Ryanair's last-ditch bid for Aer Lingus.
He has pledged to develop more flights between Ireland and the UK if the European Commission gives the go-ahead.
Under the deal with Ryanair, the new carrier, Flybe Ireland, would receive E100 million and nine aircraft from Ryanair and commit to operating 43 routes for at least three years if Ryanair's Aer Lingus bid succeeds, he said.
Ryanair, Europe's leading low-cost carrier, is making its third attempt to take over rival Aer Lingus and has been told by the European Commission it has one last chance to submit measures to prove the merger will not curb competition.
Ryanair will also provide Flybe Ireland with forward sales cash and liabilities worth around E50 million.
In return Flybe will pay Ryanair E1 million for the newly created airline.
In addition to the Flybe deal, Ryanair will pass Aer Lingus's routes from London's Gatwick Airport to British Airways.
Mr French said Flybe would like to bring more choice and flexibility to the Irish markets.
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, he said the airline wanted to develop a slightly different business model and "develop frequency particularly in some of the shorter routes into the UK". Mr French also said it was "disingenuous and unfair" to say that Flybe was bankrupt.
He said when the company was floated two-and-a-half years ago no money was taken out by the shareholders - "that money was planned to be reinvested...to expand our business in Continental Europe".
He added that the company has up to 35 jets on order. "We said we'd use the money to pay down the deposit on those new jets. "So it's not burning money, it's using the money you've took from the market for that reason," he said.