Thought leadership

UK airline Flybe has gone into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk, after a bid for fresh financial support failed. The carrier said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on demand for air travel was partly to blame for its collapse.

Its website now advises customers to “not travel to the airport” unless they have arranged an alternative flight. Exeter-based Flybe narrowly avoided going bust in January.

In a letter to the airline’s staff, chief executive Mark Anderson said: “Despite every effort, we now have no alternative – having failed to find a feasible solution to allow us to keep trading.

“I am very sorry that we have not been able to secure the funding needed to continue to deliver our turnaround,” he added.

In response to the collapse, the UK government said it was ready to help Flybe’s workers find new jobs and would work with other airlines to replace services: “We are working closely with industry to minimise any disruption to routes operated by Flybe, including by looking urgently at how routes not already covered by other airlines can be re-established by the industry. ”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said everyone was “gutted” about the news but added: “We really tried to do everything we could back at the turn of the year.

“Unfortunately, with the situation that has developed with [coronavirus], an already weak company, I’m afraid, just hasn’t been able to survive.”

David Manners arrived at Exeter Airport this morning to find his Flybe flight to Paris had been cancelled.

The trip had been planned as a surprise Christmas present for his wife and he said they were “absolutely gutted”.

Mr Manners, who lives in Lyme Regis, said Flybe’s collapse would also be bad for the area.

“We use this airport quite a lot because it’s so convenient,” he said. “We know some of the staff very well… I feel for them.”

Jessica, Abby and Robyn work for a recruitment agency and were due to return to Jersey via Exeter Airport after a business trip. They described the airport as a “ghost town” on arrival.

Abby said: “I use Flybe maybe once a month, and not having it now will be such a nightmare.”

The group said that other airlines such as EasyJet or British Airways did operate flights from Jersey, but they typically only flew into larger airports such as London Gatwick.

Blue Islands has said it is operating a flight to Jersey from Exeter on Thursday afternoon as a gesture of goodwill.

Train operators across Britain are also providing free travel to customers and Flybe staff who are unable to travel over the next week, according to the Rail Delivery Group.

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