The regional carrier went into administration on Thursday, with more than 200 routes between 50 airports ceasing and more than 2,000 jobs in jeopardy.
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic – part of the Connect Airways consortium which bought Flybe last year – said: “Sadly, despite the efforts of all involved to turn the airline around, not least the people of Flybe, the impact of COVID-19 on Flybe’s trading means that the consortium can no longer commit to continued financial support.”
It added that in the past 14 months the consortium has invested more than £135million to keep the airline flying, including around £25million of the £30million committed in January.
The Institute of Travel Management said: “The business travel community is saddened by the news that Flybe has ceased trading”.
A statement from the Business Travel Association (BTA) says: “We would like to express our sympathies with everyone affected by the situation at Flybe, particularly its fantastic employees.
“Our TMC members have been working hard and will continue to work tirelessly to assist the customers who have been impacted.”
The organisation has launched a jobs board on its website designed to provide a single source of all the opportunities available at its member companies.
“The travel industry must pull together to support the many skilled people at Flybe who face uncertainty, and it is only natural for us to play a role in this,” the statement concluded.
“Our thoughts are with all of the Flybe family at this sad time and we remain committed to supporting our members through this difficult period,” says The Advantage Travel Partnership’s CEO, Julia Lo Bue-Said.
“We are comforted to see the support our industry offers with a number of rail operators providing free travel to Flybe employees and customers. We are truly an industry united,” she adds.
Abby Penston, CEO of Focus Travel Partnership, says: “Whilst it is hugely upsetting to see a valued partner go out of business, this situation highlights the benefits for corporates of using a professional TMC for their business travel.”
Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, says Flybe “provided critical connectivity for many locations throughout the country especially where there is currently no realistic alternative other than flying.”
McDonald continues: “The Civil Aviation Authority is sadly very well practised, following the collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook, at responding to airline failure and looking after passengers. No doubt they will do that once more.”
According to travel data and analytics expert Cirium, nearly 89% of Flybe’s domestic routes (52 in total) were not served by any other carrier. Its busiest monopoly route was Manchester-Belfast.
Regional airports including Birmingham and Cardiff have said they are already in talks with airlines to take on Flybe’s routes.
Flybe franchise partners Blue Islands and Eastern Airways will continue to operate as normal, with the latter taking over three routes previously served by the stricken airline: Aberdeen-Birmingham, Southampton-Manchester and Southampton-Newcastle.
In addition, Scottish airline Loganair says it will take up 16 routes previously flown by Flybe over the coming months from its existing bases at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle.
It has also opened a special recruitment line for former Flybe employees.
A number of airlines are offering discounted one-way ‘rescue’ fares while the Rail Delivery Group has said all train operators in Britain have agreed to provide free travel to Flybe staff and customers unable to travel over the next week.