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Flybe collapses as airline cancels all flights

A Flybe Embraer E175 aircraft takes off from Southend airport - Getty Images
A Flybe Embraer E175 aircraft takes off from Southend airport - Getty Images

The regional airline Flybe has ceased trading and all scheduled flights have been cancelled, authorities said today.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority made the announcement the company had gone into administration and urged those with booked Flybe flights not to travel to airports.

Around 2,500 passengers were due to fly today, according to the administrators. Some 75,000 people have booked with the airline in the coming months, whose tickets have been cancelled.

It is understood that no government repatriation flights are planned. While Thomas Cook's collapse triggered a centralised effort, FlyBe's much smaller size and the limited number of passengers stuck abroad means that getting passengers home can be handled by its surviving competitors.

As well as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet offering "rescue fares" for those stranded, LNER has stepped in to offer free train journeys for those needing to get home.

The CAA urged ticket-holders to 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."

Airline's second collapse since 2020

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.

"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."

'It's just outrageous'

A passenger whose Flybe flight was cancelled with just three hours' notice after the airline went into administration has 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 the PA news agency: "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 out.

"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."

'Rescue fares'

Flybe's customers may be stranded by the flight cancellations, but other airlines are trying to fill the vacuum left by the collapse.

Jonathan Hinkles, chief executive of rival regional airline Loganair, told the Telegraph: “Today’s collapse had an air of sad but certain inevitability about it right from the outset – it was a poor plan, and its delivery of that plan has been beset by almost every conceivable issue, many of which were self-inflicted.  My heart goes out to the crews and engineers who had re-joined in the hope that this would be so different.”

The airline tweeted that its Manchester to Newquay service, which was served by Flybe, will relaunch on 10 February. It added: "We would encourage customers to book early to avoid any disappointment."

Meanwhile, Ryanair has launched "rescue fares" for those affected by the cancellation of Flybe's flights. It said routes from Belfast to East Midlands, Manchester and London Stansted were available online from £29.99 for travel from Sunday.

The last time Flybe collapsed – in March 2020 – Ryanair also launched these "rescue fares", with prices starting from £19.99.

British Airways is also offering discounted one-way fares in order to help people get home at short notice.

Passengers travelling between  London and Belfast, Newcastle or Amsterdam can buy tickets for £50, or €60 from Amsterdam, plus tax.

EasyJet is offering rescue flights for £49 for domestic routes and £79 for international routes, it said, if travellers quote their Flybe booking reference.

Train line LNER has said Flybe customers with cancelled flights can travel on any service for free on 28 and 29 January by presenting their boarding pass