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Coronavirus first collapse: UK regional Flybe enters administration

written by Sandy Milne | March 5, 2020

British regional airline Flybe has entered administration and grounded all flights, with multiple sources blaming coronavirus for tipping the beleaguered carrier over the edge.

The news comes just two months after the UK government announced a rescue package for Europe’s largest regional carrier.  The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority announced the news, telling passengers, “Please do not go to the airport.”



Flybe was rescued from near-collapse in mid-January through government tax deferrals, reduction of air passenger duties, and a cash injection from private shareholders.

Support from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government recognised the role the airline plays in connecting regional Britain, and was meant to underpin Flybe’s stability into the future.

However, soft domestic demand and a falling pound made business difficult for the Exeter-based LCC, before coronavirus exacerbated its issues.

With even established flag carriers like KLM and Lufthansa having to make significant budget cuts to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, regional airlines with less assets are feeling the pressure.

The airline operated out of hubs in Manchester and Birmingham and provided over half of UK domestic flights outside of London.

Until its 2019 sale to the Connect Airways consortium, Flybe was the largest independent regional airline in Europe.

The collapse of Flybe threatens 2,000 jobs and could leave hundreds of Britons stranded.

In contrast to last year’s Thomas Cook collapse, it is unlikely that passengers who have booked directly with the airline would see refunds on the price of their ticket.


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