Norwich Airport flight provider Flybe puts itself up for sale

Flybe has recently warned over profits following easing demand and a £29m hit from rising fuel costs and the weak pound

Flybe's share price soared 28 per cent this morning as the budget airline confirmed it is seeking a sale after revealing plunging profits.

Flybe now operates 204 routes serving 15 countries from 80 departure points in the United Kingdom and Europe and is the largest scheduled airline by air traffic movements at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Isle of Man, Jersey, Newquay and Southampton airports.

The group has appointed Evercore to assist it with the review, and said that parties with a potential interest in making a proposal should contact the financial adviser.

Stobart Group walked away from a bid for Flybe in March after the two firms failed to agree terms.

But in the six months to the end of September, Flybe's pre-tax profits fell 54 per cent to £7.4m, compared with the same period a year ago.

The news comes weeks after Flybe had issued a profits warning on weak demand and alongside a £29-million hit from rising fuel costs and the weak pound.

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It saw group revenues fall 10% or 2.4% on an underlying basis to £409.2 million after it cut capacity by 9%.

When the markets opened, the shares initially surged by 35 per cent to 15.8p, but later dropped to 12.2p - close to Tuesday's close and valuing the company at £25m. However, due to Flybe reducing capacity across its fleet, passenger revenue per seat increased by 7.9 per cent. "Continued improvements are being seen into quarter three which demonstrates the popularity of Flybe for our customers", Ourmières-Widener is quoted as saying in a statement.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said that while the higher fuel costs and weak pound had pushed FlyBe to the current situation, "it has been for some time a zombie airline".

"We are responding to this by reviewing every aspect of our business, especially further capacity reduction, cash management and cost savings", she added.

FlyBe also posted its first-half results.

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