At regional airports around the UK, the bad news is filtering in. Flybe has gone bust, administrators from accounting firm EY are en-route and the future of many vital flight routes throughout the United Kingdom are in grave jeopardy. Planes are being seized, staff are being let go and flights definitely won’t be taking off. Here’s everything you need to know…
Flybe was just inches from a new lifeline rebranding as Virgin Connect, but inches short it will remain, at least for now. As of 9PM GMT March 4th, 2020 the airline known as Flybe has ceased flying, flights in the air have been diverted and staff have been told not to come in. Administrators are already swooping in to seize assets.
The airline was in dire need of stop-gap funding and relief from UK passenger duties, said to be a topic of upcoming government budget discussions, but the outbreak of Coronavirus accelerated flying woes and a bailout did not come in time.
Revealed: I’m told staff from EY, the accountancy firm, are travelling to regional airports across the UK in preparation for Flybe falling into administration in the coming hours. As I reported earlier, there was little prospect of the company surviving until next week’s Budget.
— Mark Kleinman (@MarkKleinmanSky) March 4, 2020
The news is a devastating blow to the UK aviation sector, with countless regional airports deeply reliant on Flybe to maintain service and more than 2,400 employees now left without work. Deep sympathies go out to all involved. The question tonight is: will something rise from the ashes?
What If I Have A FlyBe Flight?
That’s now between you and whoever you purchased the ticket from. If you purchased your ticket with a credit card, you’ll be eligible for charge-back protection and should receive a full refund. If you purchased it with a debit card, you’ll need to hope for goodwill from a travel agent or booking site, as these protections are not guaranteed.
It’s always advisable to book flights with a credit card, due to their unique consumer protection laws.
Flybe source “the game is up”. Won’t make announcement till last plane lands tonight – thought to be around 11pm. Flybe do not base any aircraft outside UK overnight therefore limited expected role for CAA.
— Simon Jack (@BBCSimonJack) March 4, 2020
One thing is for certain: Flybe will not be flying tomorrow, and likely will not be indefinitely, barring any brave business ventures. Passengers should look to make alternative arrangements or contact their travel agent as soon as possible.
Devastating News On All Fronts
Flybe provided a vital lifeline to UK regional airports and represented feeder traffic essential to filling long haul services out of London. From jobs to convenience, the airlines roll in UK aviation cannot be understated.
After the Virgin Group and associated consortium handed the airline a lifeline in 2019, with hope of a newly branded Virgin Connect bringing increased regional passenger traffic to Heathrow, this series of unfortunate events appears to have squashed those hopes.
Rumors indicate plans may already be in place for a great revival, but only time will tell. In this climate, it wouldn’t be easy.
No one could have foreseen Coronavirus, nor could anyone have fully estimated its devastating effects on the airline industry. For now, all we can do is send our sympathies to all those 2,400+ involved in Flybe, and the passengers which relied on the airline. May it live again, even if the name does not.
This article will be updated as news trickles in.