Windfall for Regional air staff

STAFF at British Regional Airlines will receive windfalls averaging just over pounds 3,000 each when the group floats on the stock market next month with a price tag of around pounds 100m.

The shares are expected to be priced at around 150p. The 1,200 staff have been allocated 4 per cent of the shares worth pounds 3.8m by Sir Michael Bishop, who owns a controlling stake in the airline. Sir Michael will net pounds 10m from the flotation, leaving him with a 30 per cent stake worth pounds 29m.

Terry Liddiard, the chief executive, will make about pounds 1.6m from the sale and will retain a 6 per cent stake worth pounds 5.8m.

British Regional Airlines operates under the Manx Airlines name and as a British Airways franchise. Of its 86 routes, 70 are flown under the BA franchise.

The flotation will raise about pounds 20m net of expenses and will see 60 per cent of the enlarged share capital sold to new investors. The proceeds will enable the group to pay back pounds 8m of debt to Sir Michael's flagship airline British Midland and use the rest to fund a fleet expansion. It currently has 46 aircraft but it has has placed orders for up to fifteen 49-seat Embraer 145 jets which will allow it to expand its route network into Europe. Mr Liddiard said that central Europe was likely to be a particular target.

Despite the success of the Thomson Travel offer with the general public, the British Regional Airlines flotation will not be open to small investors. The flotation will take the form of a placing by Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, which will receive about pounds 2m in fees.

Last year the airline flew 2.16 million passengers on regional routes from the Isle of Man and regional UK airports.

The airline faces little competition on its route network either from rival carriers or other forms of transport.

It made pre-tax profits last year of pounds 3.9m on turnover of pounds 165m but analysts are pencilling in profits of more than pounds 5m this year.