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Flybe enters administration – what happens next?

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Flybe has finally collapsed tonight, after the Government refused additional requests for emergency funding.

The website went down around 10.45pm:

Flybe enters administration

And here is the official notice issued at Glasgow Airport, impounding one of their aircraft for non-payment of fees (click to enlarge):

Flybe enters administration

The last aircraft to land was due to be BE7308 from Hannover to Manchester at around 10.30pm.

If you saw my BBC TV interview on Tuesday, you will know that I mentioned Flybe when asked about airlines which I thought may collapse.  I felt a bit guilty about saying this, since I know many of the senior team there, but it was not exactly the sort of guess which required an industry expert.

The Financial Times had reported earlier that the Government had rejected the original request by the airline for a £100 million loan.  Whilst it was possible that Flybe would have benefited from changes to Air Passenger Duty in the budget next week, this may have been too little too late.  Any changes would have taken time to implement, and there is even talk of the budget being postponed in full as coronavirus is making financial planning difficult for the Government.

By the time you read this we will probably have the full picture.  The airline does not night-stop any aircraft, I believe, so all of the assets should have been back on UK soil late tonight unless any were impounded abroad.

This is not necessarily the end:

Will Virgin Atlantic buy the airline from the administrators?  (Difficult, given that it would have to resume trading at a time when no-one is booking.)

What will happen to the regional airports which are dependent on Flybe to keep operating?  Look at this list (some of these are franchised Flybe flights which will continue):

Anglesey – 100% Flybe 

Southampton – 95% Flybe

Belfast City – 80% Flybe

Exeter – 78% Flybe

Newquay – 66% Flybe

Wick – 59% Flybe

Jersey – 57% Flybe

Cardiff – 52% Flybe

Guernsey – 50% Flybe

Isle of Man – 49% Flybe

Does British Airways get back the ex-bmi Heathrow slots which it was forced to divest to Virgin Little Red and then Flybe?

Who will pick up the two routes which are operated under public subsidy?

Are the Stobart assets ring-fenced from the administration – and if not, what happens to the flights that Stobart runs under contract for Aer Lingus?

And who will fill the Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport every night, which was only built after Flybe guaranteed to provide most of the guests via people who were at its training academy next door?!

There is, somewhere inside Flybe, a small and profitable regional airline which is not weighed down the financial and physical baggage of a history of failed expansion.

Whether Virgin Atlantic is the one to put this back together remains to be seen, but I would imagine that the profitable routes are not the ones which would provide Virgin with feed.

For the rest of the airline industry, there is no good news here.  The biggest winners from Flybe’s collapse, if the pieces are not picked up, will be the train companies and petrol stations.  In the meantime, the public will become even more paranoid about booking flight tickets.   If Norwegian follows in the next couple of weeks then there really will be a crisis of confidence.

EDIT:  We have now added a new article covering the announcements from Loganair, Eastern and Blue Islands as they pick up ex-Flybe routes.

Comments (196)

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T Coronavirus – fancy that, it’s often mild:
    [Coronavirus patients are no longer all being admitted to hospital, British health officials have confirmed. Anyone confirmed to have the virus who is not seriously unwell or at risk of becoming more dangerously infected can recover at home. At least 45 people out of the 116 confirmed in the UK have already been instructed to stay in their own houses and wait for their illness to blow over. ]
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-8079763/UK-coronavirus-patients-no-longer-admitted-hospital.html

  • Dave says:

    Can anyone wit experience of Amex Platinum help me out with a query on Flybe flights. My scenario is as follows:
    – flights booked by my partner via lastminute.com travelling out on easyJet (no issue) but returning on Flybe
    – no refund opportunity from lastminute.com for flight only bookings
    – paid for on my partners Amex platinum Supplementary cardholder card
    – nowhere in the lastminute.com breakdown does it show the costs of the FlyBe flights

    Is it suggested that I should seek a chargeback for a partial amount (not sure how I obtain this) and then rebook the Flybe return leg via a different airline? If so do I have to cover the difference in cost myself (as s.75 consequential losses won’t be applicable to both a charge card booking and a booking via a 3rd party agency!)

    Also is Amex Platinum travel insurance of any use here? It’s a cancelled flight Which I could interpret as meaning costs upto £x are covered per person for alternative travel. However I can’t see anything in the policy which includes a provision for airline failure but equally can’t find anything to suggest there is an exclusion for airline failure!

    Wondering if anyone has previous experience of this sort of scenario and what approaches have been successful.

    • Freddy says:

      What does last minute.com have to say about it? I’d make contact with them first. S.75 may not apply due to last-minute being classed as an intermediary and such claims will not succeed.

      How much are the easyJet flights at the minute, minus that off the total and make a chargeback for that if last-minute don’t assist

      • Dave says:

        Lastminute,com have advised that they cannot issue a refund or any changes to the flights booked and that as this is a flight only booking I should make my own arrangements for alternative travel.

        Yes I was thinking the overall booking cost minus cost of the original easyJet outbound flight at current price would be appropriate but didn’t want to just come up with my own approach in case that invalidates the chargeback claim.

        Fairly sure that s75 won’t apply so won’t even explore that option.

        Does anyone know if Amex platinum travel insurance can kick in for claiming the cost of replacement return flights (assuming chargeback unsuccessful for a partial amount)?

  • Elijah says:

    I feel for everyone there as I am a FA.