November 30, 2023

Late delivery of aircraft and reduced demand led to Flybe collapse

The late delivery of aircraft and low travel demand led to the demise of the ‘new’ Flybe, according to administrators.

The airline, which was re-launched nine months ago after the original Flybe brand failed in early 2020, was losing up to £5 million a month.

Administrator Interpath Advisory said the late delivery of 17 aircraft ordered from lessors had a “tremendously negative impact” on the airline’s capacity and its ability to remain competitive, as well as causing a “significant financial loss” to the business.

The delays and reduced demand led to an an estimated £30 million in lost revenue and additional costs for the airline, which was still in its start-up phase.

All flights from and to the UK operated by Flybe have been cancelled since the early hours of Saturday.

David Pike, Managing Director at Interpath Advisory and Joint Administrator to the Company, said: “The ‘new’ Flybe was received warmly by the industry and public alike when it launched last year, so this will be devastating news for all those who have supported the company since then, including employees, passengers, funders and the wider aviation industry.

“I particularly feel for the employees who have put so much energy into making Flybe a success since its relaunch. I also know that there will be customers who rely on Flybe’s services, including the extremely important Belfast connectivity which it provides. In this regard, this is real a setback in terms of the UK’s regional connectivity at a time when infrastructure and levelling up is high on the agenda.”

Pike continued: “Over the past few months, enormous efforts have been undertaken by the directors and key stakeholders to safeguard the future of the business, including undertaking a process to seek new investors and/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.

“Having ultimately exhausted its available capital base, and with no alternative options available, the directors have taken the difficult decision to place the company into administration.”

Flybe operated flights via 21 routes to 17 destinations across the UK and EU with a fleet of eight leased Q400 aircraft.

It employed around 320 people, mainly across four sites – Belfast Airport, Birmingham Airport, Exeter Airport and its Birmingham head office.

Around 2,500 passengers were due to fly on the day of the collapse and there were 75,000 forward bookings.

BTA CEO Clive Wratten said: “The collapse of Flybe is dreadful news for leisure and corporate travellers.

“Their predominantly UK focused network gave them a vital role in British business. With the train strikes next week, our economy is once more being brought to a standstill.

“It’s imperative that our domestic infrastructure is brought in line with our global ambitions. Our thoughts are with all this impacted by the loss of Flybe.”

Matthew Hall, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Flybe employees and passengers affected by this disappointing and unexpected news.”

He said eight of the 10 routes operated by Flybe from Belfast City are served by other carriers.

“Alternative travel to Birmingham; Glasgow; Leeds Bradford; London Heathrow, Amsterdam; Edinburgh; Manchester; and Southampton can be arranged through Aer Lingus, KLM, British Airways and Loganair which operates flights to Teesside International from Belfast City Airport,” he said.

Flights from Belfast to East Midlands and Newcastle are not currently served by alternative airlines, although Loganair flies to Teeside International.