Flybe Ceases Operations Effective Immediately — and What to Do

After greater than 40 years of service, all operations of Flybe — which was the largest independent regional airline in Europe that has served the United Kingdom since Thursday, November 1, 1979 — have ceased as of today, Thursday, March 5, 2020, leaving tens of thousands of passengers either stranded or scrambling as to what to do.

Flybe Ceases Operations Effective Immediately — and What to Do

Despite numerous attempts in recent months to secure enough additional funding while simultaneously attempting to reduce expenses in order to continue operations and flights of the troubled carrier — which was to rebrand as Virgin Connect at one point — the 2019 Novel Coronavirus was apparently the death knell which has ultimately caused the airline to cease operations.

This travel alert is currently in effect at the official Internet web site of Flybe Limited:

Flybe entered Administration on 5 March 2020 and Alan Hudson, Joanne Robinson, Lucy Winterborne and Simon Edel of EY have been appointed as Joint Administrators.

All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect.

Customers

If you are due to fly with Flybe, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline. Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.

If you have a booking sold by another airline that includes travel on a Flybe flight, please contact the relevant airline or travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans.

Customers are also advised to monitor the Civil Aviation Authority website for further information (www.caa.co.uk).

If you require any further information or assistance, please contact the Administrators by phone on 0207 951 7801 or by email at flybeadministration@uk.ey.com.

Employees

In the event that you were an employee of the Company and you require any further information or assistance in relation to the Administration, please contact the Administrators on 0161 333 2596 or by email at flybeemployees@uk.ey.com.

Creditors and suppliers

In the event that you were a supplier or creditor of the Company and you require further details in relation to the Administration, please direct your enquiries to the Administrators’ office on 0207 951 7801 or by email at flybesuppliers@uk.ey.com.

Media

All media enquiries are directed to contact flybepressenquiries@uk.ey.com.

Reactions of Some Affected Customers

Customers have been expressing their anger and venting their frustrations on social media.

https://twitter.com/Jamessteel2008/status/1235405656720621569

What You Can Do

Unfortunately, there is little that you can do if you are one of the customers affected by the shutdown of operations by Flybe; but a few possible options do exist.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority — which is the independent specialist aviation regulator of the United Kingdom established as a public corporation by Parliament in 1972 — if you booked your reservations directly with Flybe and paid for your ticket with a credit card, you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and should contact your credit card issuer for further information. Similarly, if you paid by debit or charge card, contact the issuer of your debit or charge card for advice, as you may be able to submit a claim under their charge back rules.

If you purchased travel insurance which may include cover for scheduled airline failure, you should contact your insurer. If you did not book directly with Flybe and purchased your tickets through an intermediary, you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance.

Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit card, charge card or debit card may alternatively be able to submit a claim against the provider of their cards. Some card providers will ask for a negative response letter — which is not yet available but is forthcoming — confirming the position. Passengers may also be able to submit a claim against their travel insurer.

As far as the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence:

The Civil Aviation Authority believes that very few Flybe passengers are ATOL protected and those people should make arrangements through their travel agent, who are responsible for providing alternative arrangements. The government has not commissioned the CAA to organise any repatriation flights as there is capacity in the market for people to travel via alternative airlines, rail and coach operations.

Additional advice is given pertaining to this situation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Airlines with competing routes sometimes offer special airfares to customers who are displaced or stranded by an airline which ceased operations; and as Flybe had a fleet of 63 airplanes, this scenario could possibly happen — a spokesperson for the government of the United Kingdom reportedly asked bus and train operators to accept Flybe tickets and other airlines to offer reduced rescue fares to ensure passengers are able to complete their journeys as smoothly as possible — but do not count on it.

Still, you can always ask another airline if you can purchase a ticket at a reduced cost to help you complete your travel itinerary — but even though the worst that can happen with this suggestion is that you will be told “no”, again, do not count on it.

Customers are usually amongst the last in a line of creditors; and although the likelihood of receiving a full refund is almost impossible, a partial refund is likely improbable as well.

In other words, consider what you paid for the ticket to be permanently lost.

Summary

Flybe is the latest casualty in a string of carriers which have ceased operations in recent years — including but not limited to Primera Air, Monarch Airlines, and Wow Air.

Learning about the demise of a commercial airline is unfortunate news — especially at a time when some airlines had been experiencing record profits due to the advent of ancillary fees.

I would advise against considering legal action against the now-defunct airline due to the ceasing of operations, as that course of action would likely be little more than an aggravating waste of time and money.

If you are one of the customers affected by the sudden shutdown of Flybe, try to look on the bright side: your ticket probably did not cost you much money in relation to those offered by competitors; so your loss should not be substantial — and the cost of travel insurance might not have done much to defray the loss.

To better protect yourself in the future from having a similar situation happening to you, consider patronizing a low-cost carrier which is backed by a larger company — for example, Transavia is operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airways; and both Level Airlines and Vueling are operated by International Airlines Group, which is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. I flew as a passenger on an airplane operated by Vueling; and you can read about my experience with Vueling in this article.

I do have to wonder how many people paid one euro to be the majority shareholder of Flybe Nordic back in the fall of 2014, as I warned in this article which I wrote that “if you are interested in becoming the majority shareholder in Flybe Nordic, be prepared to have deep pockets to invest into it one you have purchased it…”

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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