Belfast Telegraph

Flybe boss set to step down after its sale to new owner Connect

Exit: Christine Ourmieres-Widener
Exit: Christine Ourmieres-Widener

By Alys Key

The boss of Flybe is to leave the airline following its sale to rival operators for just £2.2m.

Christine Ourmieres-Widener has decided to step down from her role as chief executive of Flybe Limited on July 15, the company said yesterday.

Her departure comes two months after shareholders approved the sale of the business to Connect Airways, a consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and Cyrus Capital, for only 1p per share.

Flybe remains the anchor airline for Belfast City Airport. Earlier this month it announced 12 routes for its 2019 winter schedule, including 508 weekly flights.

It was the first flight schedule released since the takeover.

Flybe axed its Belfast City to Liverpool route last winter, blaming low passenger numbers.

The latest winter schedule has raised questions over the future of Flybe's connection between Belfast and Cardiff.

Speaking yesterday, Jonathan Peachey, a director of Flybe, said: "On behalf of the entire Flybe board, I want to extend my gratitude to Christine Ourmieres-Widener for her commitment and significant contributions to Flybe.

"This includes her tireless efforts to safeguard the future for the customers and communities who rely on Flybe, as well as the company's employees, its pension fund members and its creditors. We all wish Christine the very best for the future."

The price attached to the airline was called "disappointingly low" by Flybe ahead of a vote in March, but investors were warned that failing to pass the deal would result in steps being taken to wind up its operations.

Ms Ourmieres-Widener became CEO of Flybe in January 2017. Last year she joined the board of governors at the International Air Trade Association (IATA), the world's aviation body.

"It has been a privilege to lead Flybe over the past two years and to work with such an outstanding and dedicated team of professionals," she said yesterday.

"Together, we have been able to secure the jobs of our loyal Flybe employees with the sale to Connect Airways and provide our customers and the UK with the vital transport and travel infrastructure they rely on, while preparing Flybe for a bright future under its new ownership."

Last month Virgin Atlantic, which led the consortium takeover of Flybe, posted its second consecutive year in the red as the airline felt the impact of the Brexit-hit pound, economic uncertainty and engine woes.

Virgin posted a statutory loss of £38.9m for the year to December 31, 2018.

Belfast Telegraph