IAG’s bid for details on Government’s dealings with Flybe fails to yield results

The Government has refused to provide any details on its agreement and ongoing negotiations with struggling airline Flybe, in response to formal questions posed by British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG).

A Freedom of Information request by IAG for details from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, seen by the PA news agency, asked ministers whether the Government is a “financial guarantor” to Flybe.

Bosses also asked for details on a tax deferral on passenger duty, which has been confirmed by Flybe but not by the Government.

Willie Walsh
Outgoing IAG boss Willie Walsh has been critical of the Flybe rescue previously (Niall Carson / PA)

But officials declined to answer any of the seven questions asked by IAG, stating to do so would “be likely to prejudice HMG’s (Her Majesty’s Government’s) commercial interests”.

The BEIS department confirmed the Government does not own a stake in Flybe.

In its response to IAG, the department added that the information has been withheld because it could “prejudice” future relationships making them “less likely to share intelligence in the future relationship with key stakeholders in the external market”.

IAG and Ryanair have both been highly critical of the Government’s involvement in helping Flybe avoid collapse earlier this year.

The British Airways owner accused ministers at the time of a “lack of transparency about the Government’s involvement in the rescue package for Flybe”.

One question, on Air Passenger Duty, asked whether the Government had altered the timing or amount due to be paid by Flybe. The Government declined to answer.

Ministers were also asked if they have ensured Flybe’s owners – Stobart, Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital – have met their previous funding commitments to invest £100 million in the airline when they bought it last year. Again, no answer was given.

Stobart has since said it will invest up to an extra £9 million. Virgin and Cyrus have confirmed they will invest but have declined to say how much.

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