REGIONAL carrier Flybe has ceased trading and all scheduled flights have been cancelled, authorities have said.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) made the announcement the company had gone into administration and urged those with booked Flybe flights not to travel to airports.
Before it fell into administration for the first time at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Flybe was Cardiff Airport’s largest airline, providing 27% of its passenger numbers in 2018, when it operated flights to Dublin, Edinburgh, Belfast, Paris, Jersey, Cork, Munich, Rome, Verona, Faro, Milan and Venice, as well as seasonal winter services to Geneva, Chambery, Berlin and Dusseldorf.
As it collapsed for the second time, three early Flybe flights from Belfast, two from Birmingham and two from Amsterdam were all showing as ‘scheduled on time’ on Flybe’s online flight status live tracker at 5am.
A passenger whose Flybe flight was cancelled with just three hours’ notice branded the company “outrageous”.
Freddy McBride, 61, from Balham in south London, was due to fly with his wife from Heathrow to Belfast on Saturday morning but had to rebook with Aer Lingus.
He told Herald.Wales: “I got up at the crack of dawn, packed and we couldn’t check in online last night so I thought we’d do it this morning.
“I left my wife to do it while I got the train. I got up at six and left the house before seven. I got to Hatton Central and I checked my email and it says they’ve gone into administration. It’s just outrageous.
“I had to phone my wife to tell her and she booked from home while I was running about to terminal three and five to British Airways because I thought we could fly with them. So I’ve just spent the last hour running around the terminals trying to sort things
“When I get on the plane I’ll be relieved. They allowed us to book about a day or two ago. It’s not good, it’s not good.”
But the CAA urged ticket-holders to instead check its website for the latest information.
CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: “It is always sad to see an airline enter administration and we know that Flybe’s decision to stop trading will be distressing for all of its employees and customers.
“We urge passengers planning to fly with this airline not to go to the airport as all Flybe flights are cancelled. For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website or our Twitter feed for more information.”
The airline also confirmed the “sad” move, noting that administrators had been brought in.
“We are sad to announce that Flybe has been placed into administration,” Flybe tweeted.
“David Pike and Mike Pink of Interpath have been appointed administrators. Flybe has now ceased trading. All Flybe flights from and to the UK are cancelled and will not be rescheduled.”
It comes after Flybe returned to the skies in April following an earlier collapse.
It returned with a plan to operate up to 530 flights per week across 23 routes, serving airports such as Belfast City, Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Heathrow and Leeds Bradford.
Flybe was pushed into administration in March 2020 with the loss of 2,400 jobs as the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed large parts of the travel market.
Before it went bust it flew the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.
Its business and assets were purchased in April 2021 by Thyme Opco, which is linked to US hedge fund Cyrus Capital.
Thyme Opco was renamed Flybe Limited.
It had been based at Birmingham Airport.
The Government said that its “immediate priority” would be to support anyone trying to get home and those who have lost their jobs.
“This remains a challenging environment for airlines, both old and new, as they recover from the pandemic, and we understand the impact this will have on Flybe’s passengers and staff.
“Our immediate priority is to support people travelling home and employees who have lost their jobs,” a spokesperson said.
“The Civil Aviation Authority is providing advice to passengers to help them make their journeys as smoothly and affordably as possible.
“The majority of destinations served by Flybe are within the UK with alternative transport arrangements available.
“We recognise that this is an uncertain time for affected employees and their families.
“Jobcentre Plus, through its Rapid Response Service, stands ready to support any employee affected.”
Cardiff Airport was the hardest-hit airport in the UK during the first year of the pandemic, with an 87% decline in passenger numbers, from 1,656,085 in 2019 to 219,984 in 2020. By August 2021, passenger numbers were down 90% on pre-pandemic levels.
In 2013, the troubled airport was sold to the Welsh Government for £52 million. In March last year, the then-Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates announced the airport would receive a five-year recovery grant of £42.6 million and separately £42.6 million of the airport’s debts would be written off.
In total, more than £130 million of taxpayers’ money has been invested in the airport since the 2013 Welsh Government purchase, leading to calls from the Welsh Conservatives for them to cut their losses and sell it.
Further advice to UK consumers impacted by Flybe entering Administration
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has issued further advice to UK consumers impacted by Flybe entering Administration on 28 January 2023.
If you booked directly with Flybe and paid by credit card you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and should contact your card issuer for further information. Similarly, if you paid by debit or charge card you should contact your card issuer for advice as you may be able to make a claim under their charge back rules.
If you purchased travel insurance that includes cover for scheduled airline failure, known as SAFI, you should contact your insurer. If you did not book directly with Flybe and purchased your tickets through a third party, you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance.
Negative response letter
Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim through their card provider. Some card providers will ask for a negative response letter confirming the position. Passengers may also be able to make a claim against their travel insurer.
Direct booking with an airline
If you paid the airline directly by credit card you might be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. You should check with your card issuer for further advice. You may have similar cover if you paid by Visa debit card and should check with your bank.
Booked through an Airline Ticket Agent
If you booked your ticket through an airline ticket agent you should speak to the agent in the first instance; they may have provided travel insurance that includes Scheduled Airline Failure cover.
Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI)
Some airlines and airline ticket agents will offer customers either a specific Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) policy or include similar protection within a broader travel insurance product. The type of protection provided may vary depending on the type of policy taken out. A policy may simply cover the cost of the original tickets purchased or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK.