Flybe shares rocket amid interest from Virgin

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A deal would give the airline, part owned by USA carrier Delta Air Lines Inc, access to Flybe's 192 routes serving 14 countries from 75 departure points in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Other names in the frame are Easyjet and Stobart Group. the latter stated an intention to takeover Flybe earlier this year but stopped short after the two airlines were unable to reach agreement on satisfactory terms.

Flybe and Virgin Atlantic have confirmed they are in talks about a sale or closer alliance.

The status of Virgin Atlantic's ownership, a combined 31% of which was recently sold to Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, could also play a part on Flybe negotiations.

In a statement by the airline it confirmed it was "reviewing its options" in respect of Flybe but stressed that there was no guarantee an offer would be made.

Shares in Flybe rose to 14.70p in afternoon trading.

A Virgin Atlantic plane
Virgin Atlantic is reportedly in talks over a takeover bid

The regional airline put itself up for sale last week after warning over profits earlier in the year.

Last month, Flybe warned its full-year losses would be £22m, blaming falling consumer demand, a weaker pound and higher fuel costs.

Flybe has 78 planes operating from smaller airports including Birmingham, London City, Southampton and Norwich, and flies to destinations across the United Kingdom and Europe.

On top of providing a wider passenger traffic into Virgin Atlantic's long-haul network, a takeover of Flybe would allow Virgin Atlantic to gain access to the take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport reserved to domestic flight.

Trade unions have already raised concerns over the impact of a Flybe's sale on the carrier's 2,300 employees.

It saw group revenues fall 10 per cent or 2.4 per cent on an underlying basis to £409.2 million after it cut capacity by 9 per cent.

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