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20 July 2011

Flybe strengthens management structure to support continued growth

Leading regional airline announces new operating structure and Group Board changes as it moves ahead with European expansion.

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline and the UK’s Number One Domestic airline, has today announced the strengthening of its Board and, with immediate effect, the re-organisation of its day-to-day divisional operating structure into three new operating units – Flybe UK; Flybe Europe and Flybe Aviation Support. The move has been made to support the ongoing delivery of European expansion and continuing growth in the UK market.

The company’s day-to-day operating structure, being organised into three divisions, is as follows:

Andrew Strong, formerly Chief Operating Officer, becomes the Managing Director of Flybe UK that incorporates the UK domestic and UK-Europe airline business. Andrew joined Flybe under its graduate entry programme in 1995 and has developed his career within the Group across a variety of roles in the intervening years including that of Director of Aviation Services.

Mike Rutter, formerly Chief Commercial Officer, has been promoted as Managing Director of Flybe Europe that comprises the company’s European airline businesses, including the recently announced joint acquisition of Finncomm Airlines, any future acquisitions and general organic development. Mike joined Flybe in 2003 after working for blue chip companies such as ICI and Maytag/Hoover. He has been responsible for the Group's commercial development since 2003 and has worked closely alongside Mr Chown in delivering the recent Finncomm acquisition.

Managing Director of the new Flybe Aviation Support division is John Palmer who is currently Director of Airline Operations. The new division comprises the airline’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, and the Flybe Training Academy. John joined Flybe in 2006 from Virgin Atlantic.

Mark Chown, currently Flybe’s Deputy Chairman and a Trustee of the Walker Trust, one of the Group's major shareholders, is to become a full-time executive Director of Corporate Strategy responsible primarily for mergers and acquisitions. He will stand down as a Walker Trustee. Mark has worked with Flybe since 1996 and has been closely involved with significant strategic developments at the Group, including the acquisition and integration of BA Connect, Flybe's IPO in December 2010 and led the recent Finncomm acquisition.

Mr Chown will be replaced as Deputy Chairman by Charlie Scott, Flybe's Senior Independent Director since 2006, and formerly Chairman of William Hill plc and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi plc.

Mark Chown, Andrew Strong and Mike Rutter will remain members of both the Group and Operating Boards, while John Palmer will join the Operating Board.

As part of the continuing development of Corporate Governance within the Group, in addition to the Audit, Safety, Remuneration and Nominations Committees, a Mergers and Acquisitions Committee has been established to monitor and review all potential acquisitions, and make appropriate recommendations to the Group Board. The M&A Committee will be chaired by Alan Smith (Non-Executive Director since 2006). Alan has a wealth of experience, including Chief Executive roles at Superdrug, Evans Halshaw and Boddington Group. The other members will be Charlie Scott and Anita Lovell, a Walker Trust representative on the Group Board.

Jim French, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Flybe, comments: "Flybe has identified a range of exciting opportunities for growth across a number of markets in Europe, organically, by joint venture and by acquisition. At the same time, we are continuing to grow market share in our UK market and aviation support business. In light of this, the Group has recognised that it requires an operational structure which will provide the requisite focus and strength to make the most of these growth opportunities. The introduction of the divisional structure will enable us to do that, and is a significant development for the Group.

“As the Group continues to grow, both in the UK and in the continental European market, it is important for us to have in place a management structure which can support and drive that momentum. Charlie, Mark, Alan, Andrew, Mike and John are formidable and highly experienced individuals who between them have more than 50 years' experience of working within Flybe. We now have the team and the structure in place to continue the Group's growth strategy, both organically and by acquisition, and we look forward to the future with great confidence."