Air France-KLM, Lufthansa could acquire bankrupt Flybe to access landing slots
The airline groups Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are both believed to be in talks to take over the defunct airline Flybe as a means to acquire the English airline’s take-off and landing slots, according to The Telegraph. The airline went bankrupt in January for the second time in three years.
Flybe holds five pairs of take-off and landing slots at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, and seven at London Heathrow. If no buyer is found, the slots can be reallocated by the slot coordinators working with each airport.
Sources told the newspaper that the airport slots in this specific case cannot simply be bought, sold and traded as in other scenarios. “If people want the slots, they need to buy the business,” a source told the newspaper. “It may yet prove too hard.”
The Dutch government has been pushing a plan to reduce the number of slots at Schiphol Airport by about 12 percent, which would allow 440,000 flight movements per year. has been pushing to reduce the number of slots at the airport. Ben Smith, the CEO of Air France-KLM has been highly critical of the plan, especially as the airline invested in newer planes based on capacity in Amsterdam.
“You know we have a whole network, a whole fleet plan which is 25 years based on these slots […] That’s quite a big hit [they] have given us there,” he told reporters in Paris, according to Reuters. He said he would like to see governments put more effort into increasing production of sustainable aviation fuel, instead of arbitrarily slashing the number of flights allowed.
Additionally, Italian flag carrier ITA Airways recently lost six pairs of Heathrow slots it had been leasing from Etihad when the Alitalia successor defaulted on a loan, The Telegraph noted. Air France-KLM had been in the running to take over ITA, but pulled out. The airline’s owner, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, is now in talks with Lufthansa. A deal could close in the second half of March, according to Italian media reports.
Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, and ITA would not comment to The Telegraph. “The administrators remain in active discussions with credible parties. Additionally, there are a range of important stakeholders who remain supportive of the process,” a spokesperson for the Flybe bankruptcy administrator told The Telegraph.
Flybe cut laid off 276 workers because of the bankruptcy, and halted all operations. The airline served seventeen airports in the United Kingdom and Europe, according to ANP.