Despite a dire year for the travel industry and the uncertain outlook for leisure travellers, the flotation of Flybe achieved lift-off yesterday, valuing the budget airline at £215m.
The Exeter-based airline said it would raise £60m through the sale of 20.3m shares priced at 295p.
Conditional trading in the shares got off to a strong start: they closed yesterday 46p higher at 341p. The airline – which focuses on UK routes but also flies to 30 other European destinations – said it would use about half of the funds to expand its aircraft fleet.
It will use the other half, it said, to boost its cash position, allowing it to "pursue additional growth opportunities" such as acquisitions and strategic arrangements. Unconditional trading in Flybe's shares is expected to commence on 15 December.
Rosedale Aviation Holdings, a family trust for the late Jack Walker, the former steel magnate and Blackburn Rovers owner, will hold 49.5 per cent of Flybe. British Airways retains a 15 per cent stake.
Meanwhile, the impact of the snow was laid bare by BAA, which said passengers numbers edged up just 1 per cent to 7.9 million in November.