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Flybe collapses into administration: what passengers need to know

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Flybe has entered administration after losses escalated and bookings were hit by coronavirus fears.

The regional carrier which operated more UK domestic flights than any other airline, fell into administration early this morning, with accountancy firm EY appointed to deal with the collapse.

The airline which had been struggling for months, also saw losses escalate as it was delisted from the London stock market and it faced an estimated Air Passenger Duty bill of £106m.

It had hoped the government would step in to help given Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously talked of the “importance of the carrier” adding the government was working very hard to do what it could to save the company.

However, the government refused to supply emergency funding. The airliner was also impacted by coronavirus which saw bookings dwindle and it was predicted Flybe could only continue until the end of March.

What the administration means for Flybe customers

All Flybe flights, and those operated by Stobart Air have been cancelled and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect.

Any customers due to travel with Flybe should not travel to the airport unless an alternative flight with another airline has been booked. Flybe is not in a position to arrange alternative flights for existing customers.

For customers with flights operated by Flybe franchise partners – Eastern Airways and Blue Islands – passengers are advised to make contact with the airline to confirm arrangements.

It is unlikely passengers will have ATOL protection which is given when booking a package holiday including a flight and hotel. However, if passengers do have ATOL protection, the travel firm is responsible for your flight arrangements and must make an alternative flight or offer a full refund.

If anyone is abroad and has the protection of the ATOL scheme, you should be repatriated.

However, for those without ATOL protection, it is unlikely you will receive a refund from the airline. Instead, 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 to tickets costing £100 or more. You should contact your card issuer for more information.

For those who paid by debit or charge card, again contact the issuer as you may be able to make a claim for the cost of the flight. You may be asked for a ‘negative response letter’ confirming the position.

Flyers should also check their travel insurance to see if it includes cover for scheduled airline failure (SAFI). The insurance may cover the original cost of the tickets or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights such as new tickets to travel back to the UK.

However, according to business data site Defaqto, one in three of the 1,169 travel insurance policies won’t protect holidaymakers from the Flybe collapse. It revealed less than half (49%) of travel insurance policies offer cover for airline failure as standard, while 19% of policies (224) give this as an added extra.

For customers who booked their ticket through a third party such as an airline ticket agent, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advises to speak to them in the first instance.

The CAA added that the government has not commissioned it to organise repatriation flights as “there is capacity for people to make alternative arrangements via airlines, rail and coach operators”.

As an example, special fares are now being offered by easyJet on former Flybe routes which it also operates, as well as British Airways on routes to and from Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Jersey, Dusseldorf, Geneva, Milan, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Paris and Nice.

The Rail Delivery Group has also confirmed all train operators in Britain will provide free travel to Flybe staff and customers unable to travel over the next week. Proof of employment or a boarding card or flight confirmation will need to be provided to station staff.

Richard Moriarty, chief executive at the CAA, 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.

“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.”

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