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In-depth: How UK aviation is reacting to Flybe collapse

written by Sandy Milne | March 12, 2020

In the immediate aftermath of Flybe’s collapse, several LCCs and regional airlines have stepped in to fill the void.

Ryanair, EasyJet, and Blue Islands are offering rock-bottom “rescue fares” for stranded passengers. Other airlines who operated on codeshares have stated that they will honour tickets sold by Flybe over the upcoming weekend.

These regional airlines have also been quick to snap up many of the routes previously operated by Flybe. Between Loganair, Eastern Airways, Blue Islands and Aurigny Air Services, 26 Flybe routes will be covered (25 of them monopolies).

Flybe’s collapse has presented challenges and opportunities for the UK’s regional carriers

British Airways has taken on 12 of the airline’s routes.

Key northern regions such as Belfast will be well-served by Glasgow-based Loganair. “Scotland’s airline” will cover 16 routes formerly flown by Flybe, to be launched over the next three months. These routes will add nearly 400 new flights weekly to the network.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said, “I am confident that the plans being announced today are robust and sustainable, enabling former Flybe customers to benefit.”

Despite news of the coverage from regional competitors, many remain pessimistic for the viability of several regional airports, especially in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.


Many airports disproportionately dependent on Flybe for traffic are facing restructuring, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

“Whilst we have some welcome news of backfill coming through, this will unfortunately not be sufficient to prevent significant restructuring across every organisation involved with the airport,” said Southampton Airport boss Neil Garwood.

“Our passenger numbers, including the backfill we have secured so far, are now around half what they were forecast to be for 2020; and, crucially for our profitability.”

Unite the Union – which represents a mix of airline cabin-crew and airport staff – said that 120 Swissport staff were under threat at airports across Scotland.

The cargo and baggage handling firm recently launched a redundancy consultation with staff “to put the business on a firmer footing”.

Unite regional industrial officer, Pat McIlvogue, said that the consultation was “premature and totally unacceptable”.

“Many of the former Flybe routes are being re-established or in the process of being taken on by other airlines,” he added.

The news comes as workers and pilots for the former airline protested outside the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Citing a lack of government relief on air passenger duty, first officer Stephen Lynn expressed disappointment at the absence of air passenger duty.

“I watched it this morning before I came here – 100 per cent relief for business rates in England,” he said. “Where was our support?”


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