Two thousand jobs lost after airline falls victim to Coronavirus crisis

Flights out of Manchester and Liverpool Airport have been grounded after airline Flybe collapsed into administration last night with the loss of 2,400 jobs.

All Flybe flights, and those operated by Stobart Air, have been cancelled.

One flight of Manchester Airport to Belfast was halted last night minutes before take off when the firm collapsed.

The Flybe plane was set to take off and then returned to the terminal leaving passengers stranded.

More than 40 flights due to leave Manchester Airport have been cancelled this morning.

The travel industry has been hit by a series of high profile collapses in the last 12 months including Thomas Cook and Monarch.

A spokesman for Manchester Airport said: “All of the flights have been cancelled due to Flybe going into administration.

“There were 45 travelling in and 45 out, all of which are now cancelled. The CA website has all of the most up to date advice.”

The struggling airline has fallen victim to the Coronavirus crisis with many people cancelling their travel plans in recent weeks.

The firm officially entered administration at 3am this morning and has ceased trading immediately.

The news means that 2,400 jobs are to be axed at the airline and EY has been appointed administrator.

Flybe customers are being urged to make their own alternative travel arrangements via other airlines, rail or coach operators.

In a letter to 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,.”

A statement on the airline’s website said: “Flybe entered administration on 5 March 2020 and Alan Hudson, Joanne Robinson, Lucy Winterborne and Simon Edel of EY have been appointed as joint administrators.

“All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect.

“If you are due to fly with Flybe, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline. Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.

“If you have a booking sold by another airline that includes travel on a fFybe flight, please contact the relevant airline or travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans.

“Customers are also advised to monitor the Civil Aviation Authority website for further information.”

Richard Moriarty chief executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This is a sad day for UK aviation and we know that flybe’s decision to stop trading will be very 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 cancelled. For the latest advice, flybe customers should visit the CAA website or the CAA’s Twitter feed for more information.

“Flybe also operated a number of codeshare partnerships with international airlines. If you have an international ticket you should make contact with that airline to confirm your travel arrangements.”

Flybe operated about 75 aircraft and served more than 80 airports across the UK and Europe.

Oliver Richardson, national officer for the Unite union said: “Unite members and the entire staff at Flybe, will be feeling angry and confused about how and why the airline has been allowed to collapse.

“It is simply outrageous that the government has not learned the lessons following the collapse of both Monarch and Thomas Cook that the much promised airline insolvency review has still not materialised.

“While other European countries are able to introduce measures to keep airlines flying when they enter administration, the UK remains unable or unwilling to do so.”

The firm ran into difficulties last year and was bought by a consortium which included Virgin Atlantic and the Carlisle based Stobart Group.

Stobart Group issued a statement this morning to the Stock Market.

It said: “Connect Airways is made up of a consortium of shareholders encompassing Cyrus Capital (40%), Virgin Atlantic (30%) and Stobart Group (30%).

“Flybe, a subsidiary within the Connect Airways group of companies, has today ceased trading and will no longer be operating its planned flight schedule.

“Stobart Group, alongside its consortium partners, Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital, are deeply disappointed that Flybe has been unable to secure a viable basis for its continuing operations and has therefore entered an administration process.

“The consortium wishes to express its immense gratitude to the 2,400 people employed by Flybe for their commitment and energy over the past 12 months.

“Customers and staff have been at the front of the consortium’s minds, and over the past 14 months Connect Airways has invested more than £135m to keep the airline flying for an extra year. This amount includes approximately £25m of the £30m committed in January 2020.

“Stobart Group’s initial investment was made up through the sale of Stobart Air and its aircraft leasing business, Propius.

“As a result, the non-cash balance sheet impact on Stobart Group is £43.3m and the additional £7m investment made in 2020. The value of both these investments will now be written down to £nil on its balance sheet.

“Stobart Air’s ongoing ability to trade is not directly impacted by the decision to place Flybe Limited into administration.

“Flybe had shown promising signs of a turnaround despite the delay to receiving merger control clearance from the European Commission for its acquisition.

“However, despite the best efforts of all, not least the Flybe people, the impact of COVID-19 on Flybe’s trading means that the consortium can no longer commit to continued financial support.

“As a result of this news, London Southend Airport will see a short-term impact, with Flybe having planned to operate ten routes from the airport from Spring of this year. However, the long-term prospects of that airport remain compelling.”