Flybe collapses as COVID-19 triggers fall in airline bookings

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By Alastair Jamieson
Flybe collapses as COVID-19 triggers fall in airline bookings
Copyright  GEOFF CADDICK/AFP or licensors

Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe, collapsed overnight with the loss of thousands of jobs and several lifeline air links to parts of the United Kingdom.

All flights have been grounded and passengers were advised not to go to airports unless they had made alternative flight arrangements.

At several airports, aircraft were impounded after the final flight of the day late on Wednesday.

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

The long-troubled carrier had been losing money for several years and was already facing vast cash shortages when fears over COVID-19 sent bookings into freefall.

Its owners — a consortium backed by investors including Virgin Atlantic — had sought a government bailout but it is understood this was ruled out by ministers.

It is the second UK-based -based airline in four months to face failure. Thomas Cook went bust in September.

Flybe, which had a major presence at airports such as Exeter, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Belfast City and Southampton, had been flying some 9 million passengers a year to 170 destinations.