© Reuters. A Flybe flight takes off from Manchester Airport in Manchester, Britain on January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files
By Mirinme Day and James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – British regional airline Flybe halted trading for the second time in three years on Saturday, canceling all flights and laying off 276 workers.
A statement on Flybe’s website said the airline, which operates scheduled services from Belfast, Birmingham and Heathrow across the UK and to Amsterdam and Geneva, had entered administration as a form of protection from creditors.
“Flybe has now ceased trading and all flights to and from the UK operated by Flybe have been canceled and will not be rescheduled,” it said.
Flyers have been advised not to go to airports.
A spokesman for executives Interpath Advisory said about 75,000 Flybe customers have future bookings that will not be honored now.
Headquartered in Birmingham, Flybe operates flights on 21 routes to 17 destinations across the UK and EU using eight leased Q400 turboprop aircraft.
David Pike and Mike Pink from Interpath were appointed joint CEOs of Flypay.
Pike said Flybe has endured several shocks since relaunching last year, including late deliveries of at least 17 planes from lessors that have severely compromised its efforts to rebuild capacity and remain competitive.
He said the scaled components of Flybe’s operating platform would be preserved for a short period of time while there was an opportunity for a rescue transaction. He encouraged any interested parties to contact them as a matter of urgency.
A spokesperson for Interpath said that 45 of Flybe’s 321 employees have been retained for now.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was providing advice and information to affected passengers.
“It is always sad to see an airline go into administration and we know that Flybe ceasing to trade will cause distress for all its employees and customers,” said CAA consumer director Paul Smith.
Battered by Britain’s COVID-19 pandemic, Flybe first fell into administration in March 2020, affecting 2,400 jobs.
In October 2020, it was sold to Thyme Opco Limited, a company controlled by Cyrus Capital, and in April 2022 it resumed flights, albeit on a smaller scale.
Flypay’s demise contrasts with post-pandemic demand for air travel.
Low-cost airlines Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, and Britain’s easyJet ( LON: ) posted record summer holiday bookings as consumers continue to take trips despite the recession.
Opposition Labor Party transport spokesman Louise Haig said Flybe’s collapse was “devastating news” for staff and customers.
“Protection for passengers is inadequate – and ministers have sat on their hands for years and failed to introduce long-promised airline insolvency laws,” he said.