Flybe silent on reports of imminent flotation

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UK-based regional operator Flybe is reportedly planning to float on the London stock exchange.

The airline has looked at going public several times in the past decade but has been frustrated by external market conditions.

A Flybe spokesman would say only that the airline "does not comment on rumour or speculation" when asked about a spate of weekend news reports indicating an imminent flotation.

The biggest shareholders in Flybe are the family of the late steel magnate Sir Jack Walker, whose air taxi operation took over the former Jersey European Airways in 1983. The merged carriers rebranded first as British European Airways, then Flybe. The Walker family trust holds 69% of the company, with British Airways having 15% and Flybe staff 16%.

Flybe has an extensive UK network of services and has increasingly reached out to Western Europe, particularly France. Last July it announced a codeshare with Air France, strengthening long-standing ties between the two airlines, and has been linked with possible acquisitions in Switzerland and Finland.