Flybe loses Air France franchise

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The Independent Online

Flybe, the low-cost airline, stands to lose a key piece of business as it prepares for the long haul to an eventual flotation or sale.

Flybe, the low-cost airline, stands to lose a key piece of business as it prepares for the long haul to an eventual flotation or sale.

Air France will terminate its last franchising deal with the British operator in March, on the route from Birmingham to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Walker Aviation, Flybe's parent company, said in its annual report, filed yesterday: "This franchise has provided a significant contribution to our business over many years, which will not be easy to replace."

The loss of the Air France business has allowed Flybe to sell its rights to land planes at Heathrow airport. Thesale of these valuable landing slots brought it a windfall of £17m and helped Flybepost a profit of £4m for the year-end April 2004, up from £285,000.

The company will report its first interim results today, and is expected to announce a £14m operating profit for the half-year.

Flybe was formerly owned by the late steel magnate Jack Walker. His family, which owns the company through a trust, is seeking to exit the business, either via a trade sale or a float.

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