Friday, 17 December 2010
Pointing upwards! (Picture: Wikipedia)
What is the fastest way to become a millionaire? Start as a billionaire and invest in an airline....! but it looks like billionaire George Soros would rather disagree!
Well, true, a £7M. investment in Flybe is not even pocket money for the famous tycoon (it will buy him around 3.4% of the company), however I find it significant that such an experienced and powerful investor, that managed to sink the pound sterling in 1992, is backing Flybe at this time, when ambitious expansion plans are under way at the British regional airline. Flybe has just floated in the stockmarket and plans to use the proceeds of the flotation to double its fleet and possibly open new bases in Europe or acquire another regional airline, another sign of confidence in the future, is that Flybe's current owners are not planning to cash their money in, at least not in the short term.
There is no lack of examples to support the old joke about the dubious profitability of airline investment (even Warren Buffett got caught on this one!), however, it is remarkable how Flybe has been able to build its niche business in a market strongly dominated by behemoths like Ryanair, Easyjet and BA, or I should say, precisely by being able to exploit the markets gaps these airlines were leaving: as opposed to BA and its Heathrow focus, Flybe has an extensive regional network, as opposed to Ryanair and Easyjet, Flybe caters mainly to the business traveller...will it be able to replicate its business model in the continent? in any case, it looks like we are going to get used to hearing about Flybe more often, as the British regional champion is onto something big!