Flybe: Bye, bye.
The United Kingdom regional airline Flybe has gone into administration today. This action risks 2,000 jobs and strands a lot of passengers.
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The carrier is partly blaming the impact on demand of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, although this is really a final blow after a series of missteps including a too-rapid expansion some years ago.
The Flybe website advises customers to ‘not travel to the airport’ unless they have arranged an alternative flight.
Despite every effort, we now have no alternative – having failed to find a feasible solution to allow us to keep trading.
I am very sorry that we have not been able to secure the funding needed to continue to deliver our turnaround.Letter to Airport Staff from Mark Anderson, CEO
Most recently the airline owners approached the UK government for additional funding, a reported UK£100m. Other competing airlines such as British Airways (IAG) and Ryanair indicated their disapproval by threatening legal action over the bailout package.
The bankruptcy comes a week before the UK budget is handed down. A budget that was expected to provide FlyBe with some relief, according to a rescue package announced by the UK government in January 2020. The package was expected to include the deferral of tax, probably a loan and a reduction in the Air Passenger Duty (APD).
It seems the Connect Airways consortium owners (Stobart Air, Virgin Atlantic and hedge fund Cyrus Capital) couldn’t wait that long. They had only owned the airline a little over a year.
The UK has lost one of its greatest regional assets. Flybe has been a key part of the UK aviation industry for four decades, connecting regional communities, people and businesses across the entire nation.Mark Anderson, CEO
Prior to the purchase of Flybe by Connect Airways, it has struggled to keep its head above water, despite cost-cutting plans and retrenchments, it was reporting losses of around UK£20m a year.
What if you are booked on FlyBe?
There is no good news. You won’t fly with them. You won’t get back your money from them. They almost certainly haven’t made alternative arrangements.
What you could try is:
- Claim on your insurance – however not all travel policies will cover you for airline dissolution
- Claim from your credit card company – you may be able to claim if you paid by credit card
- Contact your travel agent – you may be covered if your flights were booked as part of a package holiday and our travel company has an ATOL license (applies to UK/European firms). You should get a full refund or replacement
The loss of FlyBe will leave a big hole in the regional UK and to an extent European market. It will also be seen as Boris Johnson’s Government and Brexit’s failure – well at least that is how the UK opposition will paint it.
A lot of people, some just ordinary punters are going to lose money.
Is this the first airline to be the victim of COVID-19? Mmmmm – not really. The trouble started long ago. Coronavirus was more a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back.
My question (wholly out of self-interest) is: How am I going to get from Newquay back to London in July?