The ‘new Flybe’ is edging closer to becoming a reality after its first aircraft was spotted to have been registered by Thyme Opco earlier this week. A Dash 8 has been transferred to a UK registration number, indicating the airline’s owners are serious about a restart. But there’s still a long way to go before Flybe 2 is ready to fly.
A Dash 8 for the new Flybe
Just before Christmas, it was noted that the new owner of former regional carrier Flybe had applied for an Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Thyme Opco, a holding company created by Cyrus Capital last year, made an application to the UK’s CAA on behalf of Flybe, signaling that the rumors of a resurrection of the popular purple airline were becoming a reality.
Now, it seems that the new airline is a step further along the road to flying again, as a single Dash 8 has been registered in its name. According to the database held by Skyliner Aviation News, a Dash 8-400, previously registered as OE-LGA, was re-registered by Thyme Opco on January 20th as G-CLXC. The database further notes that the aircraft is currently parked at Zagreb Airport (ZAG) and is ‘for new Flybe.’
OE-LGA is a 21-year-old Dash 8-400, delivered to Tyrolean Airways in June 2000. Tyrolean was a small Austrian airline based in Innsbruck, owned by the Lufthansa Group. It was absorbed into Austrian Airlines in 1988; therefore, that was the last airline the aircraft flew for.
According to data at FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft last flew from Vienna to Zagreb in December 2020. Zagreb was not on the plane’s usual rotations, so this was likely a ferry flight for storage purposes. Austrian had been retiring its fleet of Dash 8s gradually throughout 2020 and plans to have retired all 14 by 2022. Today, it has just eight still in active service.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
What’s next for the Flybe revival?
When Thyme bought Flybe’s assets, it got a few key items included in the sale. Notably, it has a stock of spare parts and equipment for maintaining the Dash, as well as the Flybe brand and other operational assets. As previously mentioned, it now has the AOC, and apparently a single plane.
To see Flybe back in the skies, however, is going to take a bit more work. For a start, it will need staff, not to mention airport slots. And to make a successful operation at the launch, it will need more than just one aircraft to fly.
However, if Thyme is in the market for a few more used Dash 8s, it shouldn’t have too much trouble finding some. According to Anna.aero, at least nine airlines stopped using the type in the past year alone. As well as Austrian, these included Air Cote d’Ivoire, Air Tanzania, Aurora (Russia), CemAir (South Africa), Congo Airways, Icelandair and Ulendo Airlink (Malawi).
A few may come back into service as demand for air travel returns, but right now, there is something of a glut of secondhand Dash 8 available. DHC could see this, and has vowed to pause production unless more orders come in. The biggest pool, of course, came from Flybe itself, which was by far the world’s largest operator of the type. Most of its old Dash aircraft are still with the lessors, and could well be taken up by Thyme Opco for the new Flybe in the coming months.
TOTH to SPD_Travels on Twitter for first noticing the registration.