‘No effect to Norwich flights’ after regional airline Flybe collapses

pic: Archant

pic: Archant

Europe's largest regional airline Flybe has collapsed into administration, sparking fierce condemnation from unions and politicians.

Norwich Airport. Pic: Archant

Norwich Airport. Pic: Archant

A drop in demand caused by the coronavirus "made a difficult situation worse" for Flybe, and it has now ceased trading with immediate effect. Administrators had been appointed.

It comes as the airline announced it was ending many jet flights from Norwich Airport late last year, not operated by its franchise partner Eastern Airways, to Alicante, Malaga and Exeter.

Then Eastern Airways, which operated a regular service from Norwich, also scrapped its three times a day route from Norwich to Aberdeen. The service is now operated by Loganair. In a new development, Loganair is to take on 16 Flybe routes and hire some of its staff.

A spokeswoman from Norwich Airport told this newspaper: "While the situation is very sad, no flights to and from Norwich Airport are affected."

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Eastern Airways was still operating services, tweeting to passengers to arrive at airports as usual.

But all Flybe flights and those operated by sister airline Stobart Air have been cancelled, the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. However, Loganair, Scotland's regional airline, will be adding close to 400 new flights each week and has opened a recruitment line for former Flybe employees.

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The 16 routes will run from existing Loganair base airports at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle and will be launched over the next four months, beginning March 16.

Flybe was bought by a consortium of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital in February 2019, after running into earlier financial problems.

In a statement, chief executive Mark Anderson said the company had made "every possible attempt" to avoid collapse but had been "unable to overcome significant funding challenges".

"The UK has lost one of its greatest regional assets," Mr Anderson said.

"Flybe has been a key part of the UK aviation industry for four decades, connecting regional communities, people and businesses across the entire nation.

"I thank all our partners and the communities we have been privileged to serve. Above all I would like to thank the Flybe team for their incredible commitment and dedication."

The company said all Flybe flights were immediately grounded and advised all passengers not to travel to airports unless alternative flight arrangements had been made.

Oliver Richardson, national officer for major airline industry union Unite, said: "Unite members and the entire staff at Flybe, will be feeling angry and confused about how and why the airline has been allowed to collapse.

Andy McDonald, Shadow Transport Secretary, said the loss of Flybe would cause "real anxiety" throughout the country.

He said: "The Civil Aviation Authority is sadly very well practised, following the collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook, at responding to airline failure and looking after passengers. No doubt they will do that once more."

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: "The collapse of a long-standing airline like Flybe marks a desperately sad day, especially for the airline's dedicated team of employees and for customers facing disruption to their journeys.

"By stepping in quickly with a comprehensive plan, Loganair is aiming to maintain essential air connectivity within the UK regions to keep customers flying, and to offer new employment to former Flybe staff members who are facing an uncertain future."

Customers previously booked on Flybe services on the same routes will need to make new bookings.

The full routes Loganair will take on are: Aberdeen and Belfast City, Birmingham, Jersey and Manchester; Edinburgh and Cardiff, Exeter, Manchester, Newquay and Southampton; Glasgow and Exeter and Southampton; Inverness and Belfast City, Birmingham and Jersey; Newcastle and Exeter and Southampton.

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