(Reuters) – Flybe Group Plc’s <FLYB.L> shares surged 40 percent on Monday after the Sunday Telegraph reported that Richard Branson-founded Virgin Atlantic and British Airways owner IAG <ICAG.L> will battle it out to buy the regional airline.
Flybe has been in talks with multiple parties to sell itself as it grapples with falling demand, higher fuel costs and a weak British pound. On Friday it said Virgin was a potential buyer.
IAG is a frontrunner in the race to buy Flybe, the Sunday Telegraph reported on Saturday, citing industry sources. Sky News had previously reported that Stobart Group <STOB.L> was also a likely suitor.
Flybe declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Monday, while IAG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, EasyJet <EZJ.L> and Ryanair <RYA.I> have said they are not interested in buying Flybe.
Flybe has also said it would consider other options besides a sale, such as further reductions in capacity and costs.
IAG shares were last up 1.4 percent at 657.4 pence at 0840 GMT.
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)