The owners of aircraft leased by troubled flybe. (BE, Exeter) are understood to be closely tracking the carrier's financial situation amid concerns that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), acting on behalf of Eurocontrol, has the legal right to impound aircraft and sell them to recover debts, The Telegraph newspaper has said citing sources familiar with developments. The UK government recently granted the airline more time to pay its outstanding GBP106 million (USD138 million) Air Passenger Duty (APD) bill and offered a potential state loan - although both are yet to be agreed.

While waiting for potential government assistance, the carrier has been negotiating with its airport and ground handling partners over the deferral of its debts, however, arrears owed to Eurocontrol must be paid within 30 days. The CAA also has the legal right, on behalf of the European air traffic control body, to impound aircraft and sell them to recover debts. The tail lien gives Eurocontrol impounding rights whether or not the airline actually owns the aircraft.

According to the ch-aviation fleets ownership module, 40 of the 67-aircraft flybe. fleet fly on operating lease, with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) being among the primary suppliers, as it owns 18 of the carrier's 54-strong Dash 8-400 fleet. Leasing companies are normally allowed access to monitor outstanding debts owed to agencies like Eurocontrol in order to protect their interests.

NAC was contacted for comment by ch-aviation but declined to respond.

A flybe. spokesman told The Telegraph: “Flybe. delivers critical regional connectivity across the UK and Europe, including providing more UK domestic flights than any other airline."

“We are currently working with our shareholders and the government, all of whom are very supportive of the business, in order to deliver our long term strategic plan. We continue to be very grateful for the support and partnership of our suppliers. Throughout this process, we are continuing to provide great service and connectivity for all customers travelling on our network.”