British regional airline Flybe ceases trading, cancels all flights

  • Collapses for the second time in three years
  • 276 workers dismissed by administrators
  • About 75,000 customers had future orders
  • Damaged by delayed delivery of aircraft
  • Rivals see returning demand

LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) – British regional airline Flybe ceased trading for the second time in three years on Saturday, with all flights canceled and 276 workers made redundant.

A statement on Flybe’s website said the airline, which operated regular routes from Belfast, Birmingham and Heathrow across the UK and to Amsterdam and Geneva, had entered administration, a form of protection against creditors.

“Flybe has now ceased trading and all flights to and from the UK operated by Flybe have been canceled and will not be rescheduled,” it said.

It advised people due to fly not to travel to airports.

A spokesperson for administrators Interpath Advisory said around 75,000 Flybe customers had future bookings which will now not be honoured.

Headquartered in Birmingham, Flybe operated flights on 21 routes to 17 destinations across the UK and Europe using a fleet of eight leased Q400 turboprop aircraft.

David Pike and Mike Pink of Interpath were appointed joint administrators of Flybe.

Pike said Flybe had struggled to weather a series of shocks since its relaunch last year, not least the late delivery of 17 aircraft from lessors that seriously compromised efforts to rebuild capacity and remain competitive.

He said scaled-down elements of Flybe’s operating platform would be preserved for a short period while there was a possibility of a rescue transaction. He encouraged all interested parties to get in touch as soon as possible.

An Interpath spokesperson said 45 members of Flybe’s 321 staff had been retained until further notice.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it would provide advice and information to affected passengers.

“It is always sad to see an airline go into administration and we know that Flybe’s decision to cease trading will be distressing for all employees and customers,” said Paul Smith, CAA’s director of consumer affairs.

Hurt by the UK’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Flybe first fell into administration in March 2020, affecting 2,400 jobs.

In October 2020 it was sold to Thyme Opco Ltd, a firm controlled by Cyrus Capital, and in April 2022 it resumed flights, albeit on a smaller scale.

Flybe’s demise contrasts with a post-pandemic surge in demand for air travel.

Low-cost airlines Ryanair ( RYA.I ), Europe’s largest carrier, and Britain’s easyJet ( EZJ.L ) have reported record bookings for summer holidays, a sign that consumers are still keen to travel despite a looming recession.

Louise Haigh, the opposition Labour’s transport spokeswoman, said Flybe’s collapse was “devastating news” for staff and customers.

“Passenger protections are simply not strong enough – and ministers have sat on their hands for years and failed to introduce laws on airlines that have long promised insolvency,” she said.

The Unite union said the government had failed to learn from Flybe’s first collapse.

Reporting by Mrinmay Dey and Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and James Davey in London Editing by William Mallard and Jason Neely

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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