04 March, 2020

Flybe goes into administration after failing to secure more funding

The UK regional airline Flybe has suspended operations and gone into administration, with all flights being axed and leaving more than 2200 staff facing unemployment at a time when other airlines are freezing recruitment over the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.  

Flybe was still taking reservations on its website and ap until ten minutes before 11pm UK time when the sites stopped working and an error message appearing informing visitors that they might have taken a wrong turn.

Flybe was Europe’s biggest regional airline and had operated nearly 120 routes but had been struggling to survive for the last few years.  It was taken over by a consortium of Stobart Air, Virgin Atlantic and a US investment firm and was about to be rebranded Virgin Connect.  However, the losses continued to mount, despite cash injections from the three investors.  The firm had asked the government for £100 million to bail it out over an already difficult winter season, but that loan was declined. Flybe's chances of success were further dealt a massive blow by the downturn in future bookings as people halted their travel plans because of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. The collapse was a foregone conclusion when Virgin Atlantic refused to inject further funding into Flybe earlier this week.

Earlier this evening, mechanics at its Exeter base have been arriving at the hangers and collection their tools and toolboxes to take home.  Ordered not to talk to the media, many had no idea if the airline would still be flying tomorrow, let alone next week.

However, the writing may not have been on the walls, but it was on some aircraft on the ground that were impounded by airports over the unpaid bills for services, fuel and landing fees.  Glasgow and Aberdeen put impound notices on aircraft, a sad end to an airline that had a 40-year history - under many names - of regional operations in the UK.

Blue Islands, a franchise partner of Flybe that operates flights to and from the Channel Islands has promised to continue operating flights and asked passengers to check-in on time at the airports.  It said it would sell tickets at the airport for a flat rate of £50 for other stranded passengers.

Circulating on social media is a letter sent to staff just prior to the demise of Flybe by its CEO which tells of the sadness of not being able to secure further financing.

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