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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 (195)

  • Bobby says:

    I never knew Anglesey had an airport

    • Charlieface says:

      It doesn’t. It’s a little corner of RAF Valley

      • Kipto says:

        Heavily subsidised route so that the welsh assembly ministers can travel back and forth from Cardiff to north wales. The route would never survive on its own merit.

  • Richard says:

    Does having a ticket issued from Air France for a Flybe route (SOU-LRH) change things?
    Not until August so I think best to wait to see how things unfold.

    • Richard says:

      It becomes Air France’s responsibility to either refund or reroute you (this is legally, your choice, not the airlines)
      You will probably have to get to Heathrow by yourself but at a cashflow time like this for Air France thet ought to want to keep the cash inside the building and not your pocket

      • pauldb says:

        I don’t think this is absolutely the case. EU261 only binds the operating carrier, Flybe. AF’s conditions of carriage do apply if you are on a codeshare with an AF number, but even then the CoCs only say in relation to cancellations that they’ll comply with EU261.

  • Bentoni says:

    If I booked a Flybe flights via Amex charge card. Will the Platinum insurance cover the cancellation?

    • Shoestring says:

      charge card but just ask for chargeback same as credit cards

  • Alex says:

    Please note that the Blue Islands routes are still operating and indeed Blue Islands will be running some additional planes today to assist Flybe customers. Really important that Blue Islands and Eastern don’t suffer too much from people thinking they are Flybe.

    • tony says:

      Indeed – but what is going on here? Eastern have a note on the website saying it’s BAU until Sunday. Then what??? All rather confusing…

      (Also good news for everyone booked on the Anglesey – Cardiff route in the next few days…)

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        What happens now to airports like Exeter with nearly 80% of flights from Fly BE if nobody picks up the slots, does regional airports like EXT close?

        • Shoestring says:

          Exeter is a vibrant city with plenty of jobs eg Met Office etc

          So whilst it would be fanciful to imagine a majority of Flybe routes getting quickly taken up by other airlines, probably the main ones esp seasonal holiday routes will get filled

          Newquay? I’m hopeful BA will step up to offer either 3x or 4x daily flights to LHR all year round in future (Flybe 4x daily) – this route is subsidised and has APD concession, so logically BA might in time step up, feeder to LH routes, I guess LHR slot dependent as well

          On R4 this morning, Newquay airport boss said they had been anticipating Flybe’s demise and were already talking to other airlines in recent weeks

    • planeconcorde says:

      For Blue Islands flights between the UK and Channel Islands go to their web site https://www.blueislands.com/ Then part way down the front page click on the “Blue Islands confirms its flights to continue as normal” banner. There is a list of extra flights they are operating today. It also explains to make a booking for flights today any spare seats will be sold at airport ticket desks at £50 one way including baggage. They will hope to have another booking engine in a few days.

      • planeconcorde says:

        Correction: Spare seats on scheduled flights are £50 one-way with baggage. Seats on the extra flights, for passengers who have an existing Flybe booking, will be free.

  • Marcw says:

    I believe there were some very late flights, after the HAJ-MAN flight, from BHX to Aberdeen and Belfast City.

  • Holger S. says:

    I am worried about Norwegian being mentioned in the article. I have booked a flight from Buenos Aires on the 19th April. Not sure if Travel Insurance included in the Platinum Amex would cover bust Airlines.

    • Peter K says:

      Why not read the t&cs and see what it says about scheduled airline failure?

  • LewisB says:

    “Anglesey – 100% Flybe” the 2x flights a day to Cardiff are operated by Eastern Airways and are still flying.

    • Dubious says:

      And have been through this experience plenty before, previously with Manx2 / CityWing and later with the JetStream that became unairworthy…

  • PaulC says:

    O/T – Tried searching but cant find my answer so apologies. I have seen people comment about a website that helps you choose where to credit air miles when flying with different airlines. Ive just booked our first flight with Singapore Airlines so wanting to know where best to credit the air miles.

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