UK Regional Flybe Cancels All Flights After Entering Administration
LONDON—UK-based regional carrier Flybe has ceased trading and canceled all flights effective Jan. 28 after entering administration.
The all-De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 operator, which relaunched in April 2022, had been serving 10 airports in the UK as well as international destinations Amsterdam and Geneva.
The airline was led by CEO Dave Pflieger, the former CEO of Alaska-based regional airline Ravn Air. It operated a fleet of eight Dash 8-400s.
A statement on the Birmingham, England-based carrier’s website told any passengers expecting to travel not to go to the airport, adding that alternative flights would not be arranged. The statement added that the High Court has appointed David Pike and Mike Pink of insolvency firm Interpath Advisory as joint administrators of Flybe Limited.
Under UK law, administration sees a company placed under the control of a licensed insolvency practitioner. They will seek a viable new owner for the company but will liquidate it if none is forthcoming. The company is protected from creditors while the search for a new owner is under way.
Pike expressed empathy for the airline’s employees, “who have put so much energy into making Flybe a success since its relaunch. He described the situation as a “real setback in terms of the UK’s regional connectivity at a time when infrastructure and leveling up is high on the agenda.”
Pike said the company had to withstand a number of shocks since its relaunch. “Not least of which was the late delivery of 17 aircraft which it needed for its schedule, and which has severely compromised both the airline’s capacity and its ability to remain competitive,” Pike said. “This has driven significant financial losses and [was] an associated cash drain for the business.”
He added that in recent months, “enormous efforts” had been made by the directors and stakeholders to find new investors or owners. “Unfortunately, with the aviation sector still adjusting to the ‘new normal’ following the pandemic, it appears the time was not right for this process to reach a successful conclusion,” Pike said.
Paul Smith, consumer director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, 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 canceled.”
The old Flybe failed in March 2020. Its brand and assets were sold to Thyme Opco, a business linked to hedge fund Cyrus Capital. New York-based Cyrus Capital was previously part of a consortium that owned the airline alongside Virgin Atlantic and the now-defunct Stobart Air.
The latest incarnation of the airline launched commercial operations in April 2022, with its first route connecting its Belfast City (BHD) base with its Birmingham (BHX) headquarters.
For the week commencing Jan. 30, OAG data shows the carrier was scheduled to offer 292 flights across 17 routes. About 70 flights were planned from Belfast City, 47 from Birmingham and 43 from London Heathrow (LHR).
Belfast City CEO Matthew Hall said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Flybe employees and passengers affected by this disappointing and unexpected news.” He added that of the 10 destinations served by Flybe from the Northern Ireland airport, eight are available with other carriers.
Earlier in January, Flybe unveiled a summer schedule and said it would offer two new routes from its Birmingham base. They were due to be Aberdeen (ABZ) and Bergerac (EGC) in France. The airline also planned to bring back seasonal flights to French destinations Avignon (AVN) and Brest (BES).
Flybe’s planned summer 2023 schedule comprised some 1.2 million departure seats and more than 14,700 flights. In total, it intended to operate 23 routes, with more than 300,000 seats scheduled to depart from Belfast City.