UK lowcost carrier Flybe collapsed on early Thursday, with all of its future flights cancelled, affecting over 2,300 staff and forcing thousands of travellers to seek contingencies ahead of the upcoming Easter holiday. The company announced the collapse around 03:00 GMT following warnings of an imminent administration around late Wednesday.
— Flybe ✈ (@flybe) March 5, 2020
Flybe said on early Thursday Morning: “All Flybe and Stobart Air operated flights have been cancelled with immediate effect.
Reactions From the Aviation Industry on Flybe's Collapse
Flybe chief executive Mark Anderson said in a statement that the company was "unable to overcome significant funding challenges", adding that further problems had been "compounded" by the coronavirus outbreak which caused a "significant impact on demand".
He added: “Flybe has been a key part of the UK aviation industry for four decades, connecting regional communities, people and businesses across the entire nation. I thank all our partners and the communities we have been privileged to serve. Above all I would like to thank the Flybe team for their incredible commitment and dedication.
Commenting on the matter, the Department for Transport issued a government statement requesting bus and train operators to "accept Flybe tickets" along with other airlines to "offer reduced rescue fares" to ensure smooth journeys for passengers.
— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) March 5, 2020
The government spokesperson said: “We know this will be a worrying time for Flybe staff and our Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Service stands ready to help them find a new job as soon as possible.
The government added it was working closely with the aviation industry to "minimise any disruption to routes operated by Flybe, including by looking urgently at how routes not already covered by other airlines can be re-established by the industry.”
It also issued further information on resolving Flybe's administration period, including updates for former employees made redundant by the insolvency.
— UK Civil Aviation Authority (@UK_CAA) March 5, 2020
Chief executive for the Civil Aviation Authority, Richard Moriarty, said that it was a "sad day" for British aviation and Flybe's decision to cease trading would be "very distressing" for its employees and customers.
Coronavirus? Who's to Blame for the Fall of Flybe
Cash-strapped Flybe has cited the coronavirus outbreak as a catalyst for its demise, but others believe the crisis was long in the making.
The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) blamed the UK government for the carrier's failure, with general secretary Brian Strutton stating that Flybe had been taken over by new owners promising "funding for a bright future".
He added: “Six weeks ago, when the ownership consortium lost confidence, the government promised a rescue package, apparently at that time recognising the value of Flybe to the regional economy of the UK. Throughout, pilots, cabin crew and ground staff have done their jobs brilliantly, while behind the scenes the owners and, sadly, government connived to walk away.
He concluded that Flybe staff would "feel disgusted at this betrayal and these broken promises”.
The regional carrier's fall into administration comes shortly after ministers rejected a plea for £100m in state loans amid seven weeks of negotiations, according to reports in March.
Plan B for Flybe Customers:
Roughly 1,000 staff were based at the company's headquarters in Exeter, but Birmingham, Southampton and Manchester were also important hubs for the carrier's 119 routes, mostly across the UK.
Rival carriers are set to provide replacement flights, namely to Belfast and others on Flybe's main airport operations.
A Birmingham Airport spokesperson said: “We already have arrangements for two airlines to replace five of its routes in the next few weeks. We will continue to engage with other airlines to replace the remaining capacity for our region and customers.
— Birmingham Airport (@bhx_official) March 5, 2020
UK lowcost carrier EasyJet said in a statement that it would offer Flybe workers free rides home, adding that it would keep a "dedicated rescue fee for customers" affected by the collapse up to the end of May.
— Ben Thompson (@BBCBenThompson) March 5, 2020
The announcements come after similar UK carriers, including Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook collapsed in October 2017 and September last year, respectively. Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, along with US hedge fund managers Cyrus Capital and UK's Greybull Capital raised £100m in capital as a lifeline for the failing company, but were unsuccessful in saving the firm.