Flybe goes on the hunt for acquisitions

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The Independent Online

Flybe, the Exeter-based short-haul airline, continued to confound tough conditions in the aviation industry, posting healthy profits yesterday and saying that it wants to buy up other regional airlines. The privately owned group said that its regional model has allowed it to skirt the troubles seen by larger airlines.

Reporting annual profits of £5.7m for the 12 months to the end of March, Jim French (pictured), Flybe's chairman and chief executive, claimed that the airline was one of the few to have remained profitable during the recession. It made £100,000 last year at the height of the recession.

As well as announcing its results yesterday, Flybe, which bought British Airways' UK internal flight business, BA Connect, in 2007, said that it was on the lookout for other regional airlines in Europe. "Our studies have identified a number of investment opportunities," said Mr French. "We will concentrate on what we know best – that is Western European regional airlines, and we should have lined things up by the end of the financial year."

One regional airline that Flybe will not be buying is Air Southwest – the small group that operates from Plymouth – after it agreed to be bought by Eastern Airways yesterday.