Flybe to be rebranded as Virgin Connect following Virgin Atlantic investment
British regional airline Flybe announced on Tuesday it will rebrand as Virgin Connect in 2020, following investment by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic.
The new name comes as little surprise, given the name of the consortium is called 'Connect Airways', comprising 40% ownership by Cyprus Capital, 30% by Stobart Group and 30% by Virgin Atlantic Limited, the holding company of both the airline and Virgin Holidays divisions.
Few details of the rebranding have been revealed, though a new website for the rebranded airline has already gone live, promoting the new phase as "Europe's Largest Regional Airline".
Mark Anderson, CEO of Connect Airways said, "Virgin Connect will be passionately focused on becoming Europe's most loved and successful regional airline. It will offer travel that is simple and convenient with the personal touch. Our customers will naturally expect the same exceptional travel experience as they do with other Virgin-related brands. As part of the Virgin family, we now have a tremendously re-energised team".
The group admits the transformation will be ambitious, as passengers and staff "say goodbye to purple and hello to red".
At this point, it remains unclear how exactly Flybe will adopt the Virgin brand beyond just a linked name. Both airlines offer vastly different passenger experiences. While the acquisition will help feed regional passengers into Virgin Atlantic's long-haul services, the vast differences in aircraft types alone make for very different flights for passengers coming off a tiny Flybe/Virgin Connect ATR 72-600 and on to Virgin's flagship new Airbus A350 aircraft. We also await details of how Virgin Connect will work with the Flying Club programme.
If you have an existing booking on Flybe in 2020, there's nothing for you to do. Once the rebrand is complete, your flight may be operated by Virgin Connect rather than Flybe.