Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) is in talks to acquire flybe. (BE, Exeter), Sky News has reported.

Sources familiar with developments told the television station that Virgin executives had opened a dialogue with Flybe's advisers about making an offer for the UK regional carrier.

Flybe announced last week that it was pursuing a sale as one of the various cost-cutting options available to it.

The sources told Sky News that Virgin's interest in Flybe stemmed from the possibility of using the latter's domestic UK network to feed into Virgin's longhaul network as well as its London Heathrow slot portfolio.

Rothschild is advising Virgin Atlantic on its interest in Flybe.