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Virgin Atlantic would be interested in partnering with flybe if the regional airline restarts under new ownership, but will not invest any capital in that cooperation over the next dozen months, Chief Executive Shai Weiss said during a CAPA Live event.

"We’re an interested party because we have a residual interest in that business. We welcome the opportunity to flybe. to resurrect itself yet again and to serve the various regions in the UK," he said.

However, he stressed that over the next 18 months or so, Virgin Atlantic would focus on cash positive actions to ensure the airline is well-positioned when the market rebounds after the pandemic.

"In the longer term we’ll re-evaluate to see where things are - whether Flybe is around under a new lease of life or whether we needed to do something ourselves," Weiss said.

Virgin Atlantic held a 30% share in Connect Airways, a consortium which bought flybe. in February 2019. Other members included Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital. Following the takeover, flybe. was due to be rebranded as Virgin Connect to provide regional feed for Virgin Atlantic's long-haul services. However, before the strategy could be implemented, flybe. collapsed in early March 2020.

In October 2020, Thyme Opco, a company affiliated with Cyrus Capital, acquired the flybe. brand and its remaining assets amid plans to restart the airline as an "essential regional connectivity" provider.

Virgin Atlantic does not operate any narrowbody aircraft and has no code-share agreements covering European feeder routes into its hubs at London Heathrow and Manchester International. It codeshares with joint-venture partners Air France and KLM for services out of Paris CDG and Amsterdam Schiphol. 

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