Regional airline Flybe has revealed plans to take the company public in a bid to raise £60 million.
The privately-owned carrier, which claims to be one of only a few European airlines to report profits since the financial crisis, said it will put some of the cash raised towards a fleet of new aircraft.
The airline, which will use the rest of the proceeds to support growth plans, such as codesharing and takeovers, would not comment on the expected value but a recent report suggested it could be in the region of £200 million.
The current shareholders, which include the founding Walker family, British Airways, and chief executive Jim French, are not expected to sell their interests in the airline.
The Exeter-based carrier, which employs more than 2,900 people and operates 215 routes across Europe including a number out of Birmingham, posted pre-tax profits of £6.8 million in the year to March 31, down from £12.8 million the previous year.
Mr French said: “We are delighted to bring Flybe to the market. The Company has come a long way in a short time, from its origins as a provincial carrier to being one of Europe’s leading regional airlines.”
“A listing will assist Flybe in achieving the next stage in its exciting strategy for growth. We look forward to welcoming new shareholders on board for the next leg of our journey.”
Mark Chown, deputy chairman of Flybe and corporate representative of Rosedale Aviation Holdings Limited, Flybe’s largest shareholder, added: “Flybe has a proven and resilient business model with an experienced management team capable of realising significant future growth opportunities”.
“Rosedale believes it is the appropriate time for Flybe to maximise its growth potential through access to the capital markets. Rosedale has been a shareholder in the business for over 25 years and intends to remain a significant shareholder following the IPO and looks forward to participating in the future success of Flybe as a listed company.”
Current shareholder British Airways has also indicated its support for the IPO. CEO Willie Walsh said: “We are delighted to participate in the Flybe IPO. Since our divestment of BA Connect to Flybe in March 2007, we have been impressed with the achievements of Flybe and its management team. We are committed to supporting Flybe in its listing and capital raising, and wish Jim and the team every success as a public company.”