Flybe to raise £60m through stock market float

Half of the proceeds of the float will go towards expanding Flybe's fleet of aircraft

Britain's biggest domestic airline Flybe is planning to raise £60m with a stock market flotation on the LSE that values the company at around £250m as it looks to fund fleet expansion and explore "growth opportunities", including potential acquisitions in mainland Europe.

Flybe, which specialises in short flights across Britain, using smaller aircraft than other airlines, managed to remain profitable throughout the recession. Now, despite the eurozone debt crisis, the Exeter-based airline is to raise £60m in an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares.

Half of the proceeds of the float will go towards expanding Flybe's fleet of aircraft, with the remainder earmarked for opportunities such as further code-sharing with other airlines or possible acquisitions.

Jim French, the chairman and chief executive, said the airline had "come a long way in a short time, from its origins as a provincial carrier to being one of the Europe's leading regional airlines".

After acquiring British Airways' domestic airlines business in 2007, Flybe has accounted for 26 per cent of all British regional airline traffic in 2009.

The largest shareholder is Rosedale Aviation Holdings, which controls 70 per cent of the company and is run by the Walker family trust. British Airways, which owns 15 per cent of Flybe, is expected to subscribe for enough shares to maintain its holding in the company.

Flybe currently operates 68 aircraft, flying 215 routes from 73 airports across Europe.