Flybe administration: Five things you need to know
1) What happened this weekend?
On Saturday morning, the regulator the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), confirmed that Flybe had ceased trading. All flights were cancelled with immediate effect, and they would not be rescheduled.
Flybe operated scheduled services from Belfast City, Birmingham and Heathrow to airports across the UK, as well as to Amsterdam and Geneva.
The High Court appointed David Pike and Mike Pink as joint administrators of Flybe.
2) Didn’t Flybe already go bust?
In January 2020, reports suggested Flybe was on the brink of going bust as it faced an estimated £106m Air Passenger Duty bill and purportedly saw losses escalate in the 10 months after it was delisted from the London stock market. In March 2020, it collapsed into administration.
Flybe was acquired by a consortium led by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, along with Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital. The brand and remaining assets were later sold to Thyme Opco, a company affiliated to hedge fund Cyrus Capital.
A statement issued in October 2020 read: “Any return to the skies would be likely to see Flybe focus on a small number of profitable routes.”
After picking up flight slots and announcing bases, the new Flybe took to the skies in April 2022.
3) I’m due to travel, what can I do?
If you have an upcoming flight with Flybe, it will not be operating as all flights have been cancelled. If you need to keep to your original plans, see if any other airlines fly the same route.
In response to the Flybe administration, British Airways has launched one-way fares of £50/€60 plus taxes, fees and charges on selected routes to get passengers where they need to be.
You need to make a booking by calling the British Airways contact centre on 0344 493 0787.
Ryanair has also launched fares starting from £29.99 to accommodate affected customers.
These are on sale on the Ryanair.com website for travel from Sunday 26 March 2023, so this isn’t immediately helpful for those with Flybe flights booked in the days and weeks before then.
Meanwhile, easyJet is also offering fares of £49 for domestic routes and £79 for international routes, which includes a 15kg hold bag. Here, you’ll need to present your original Flybe booking reference. This will be in place for Flybe customers until 5 February.
4) Can I get my money back?
This depends on the amount of the booking and how you paid.
If you booked directly with Flybe and paid by credit card you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This applies where a flight cost more than £100 and means the credit card company is jointly liable so you should contact it to make a claim.
If you paid by debit or charge card you should contact your card issuer for advice as you may be able to make a claim under their charge back rules.
The CAA explained that some card providers will ask for a negative response letter confirming the position. It will publish this shortly.
Alternatively, check your travel insurance to see if it includes cover for Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance, known as SAFI. This could include cover for the cost of the original ticket or any unused portion, or the additional cost of buying new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK.
According to business data site Defaqto, 37% of annual and single trip insurance policies do not include SAFI as standard, 3% include it as an optional extra while 45% include it as standard, and 16% include this with the option to pay more to extend this cover.
For those who didn’t buy directly from Flybe and bought tickets through a third party, the CAA said you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance. They may have provided travel insurance that includes Scheduled Airline Failure cover.
According to Anna-Marie Duthie, travel insurance expert at Defaqto, if your flight was booked as part of a package holiday you should be ATOL protected and so will receive a refund from them.
“Under travel insurance if the financial failure of the airline occurs after departure, the insurance will also cover the additional costs incurred in replacing the return flight arrangements,” Duthie added.
5) What about car hire, hotel and activities I’ve already paid out for?
If you’ve already forked out for car hire, hotel and other activities which you won’t be able to use due to the administration and cancelled flights, contact the firms to see if they will amend the dates of your booking.
You could face a fee for doing so though. Alternatively, see if your insurance will cover the cost.
Duthie said: “If you have booked these elements separately and the airline fails, it will come down to whether you can obtain a replacement flight. If you can and arrive at your accommodation on the date planned all will be well.
”If, however you are unable to get a replacement and need to cancel or move your holiday it will come down to the provider of the accommodation etc as to whether they will provide you with a refund or allow you to move your booking to an alternative date. You will need to contact them directly to explain and find out what their terms are.”
Jonathan Whittle, senior manager at YourLawyers, said: “Perhaps if a person is ATOL protected and if they purchased elements together, this could be something to look into, or if a credit card was used. Alternatively, people may need to consider their travel insurance if they had taken any out.”