Sunday 26 January 2020 2:00 pm

Flybe looks for another tax delay, weeks after government saves airline

Flybe is said to have implored airports to give it more time to find millions of pounds it owes them in unpaid landing fees.

Europe’s biggest regional airline held crisis talks with airports including Birmingham, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton, according to reports.

It is said to be in a race against time to plug a multimillion-pound hole in its finances. 

This is despite the government deferring a £10m air passenger duty tax bill earlier this month to help keep the airline afloat.

Sources told the Sunday Telegraph that Flybe, which is backed by billionaire Sir Richard Branson, had “got out it’s begging bowl”. 

Chief executive Mark Anderson held talks with the airports. Insiders added that most are inclined to support the airline.

However, deferrals could be damaging to their own finances, as Flybe is one of the biggest players in their market.

A Flybe flag at Exeter airport
A Flybe flag at Exeter airport (Getty)

Companies House filings show the airline has also effectively mortgaged assets such as its engines and buildings to Global Loans Agency Services (GLAS).

GLAS’ previous clients include Thomas Cook, Interserve and Carillion in the weeks before they went bust.

A Birmingham airport spokesperson said: “Flybe is an important carrier to us and the Midlands region but we do not comment on commercial terms concerning any of our airlines.”

The government’s decision to save Flybe sparked considerable backlash among its competitors.

Ryanair and British Airways both suggested it had been given favourable treatment.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary threatened to sue the government over what he called the air passenger duty tax “holiday”.

Meanwhile, British Airways owner International Airlines Group filed an official complaint to the European Commission, suggesting Flybe had received unfair state aid.

IAG boss Willie Walsh called the rescue “a blatant misuse of public funds”.

Flybe declined to comment.