Flybe hopes its shares will take off after float

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Europe's largest regional airline, Flybe, is to float on the London Stock Exchange with the aim of fuelling expansion.

The company, which managed to remain profitable throughout the recession, is hoping to raise £60m with its IPO next month. The move comes despite mounting concerns over Europe's economy as a result of the eurozone debt crisis which has already forced bailouts of Ireland and Greece, with fears that Portugal and Spain could follow.

Half of the proceeds of the float will go towards expanding Flybe's fleet of aircraft, with the remainder earmarked for opportunities such as further code-sharing with other airlines or possible acquisitions.

British Airways, which owns 15 per cent of Flybe, run by Jim French, is expected to subscribe for enough shares to maintain its holding in the company, which was set up in 1979 as Jersey European Airways.

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