Passengers, travel agencies and airlines are picking up the pieces after the dramatic failure of Flybmi last week. The East Midlands-based airline operated 17 aircraft on routes between 25 European cities, employing 376 people in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.
Flights were cancelled overnight with many passengers receiving a text message notifying them of the news that the company had entered administration on February 16 with immediate effect.
A Flybmi spokesperson said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement. The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU’s recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme. These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit.”
The airline representative also cited the fluidity of the ongoing Brexit negotiations as an additional factor. “Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and lack of confidence around bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe” they added.
Several airlines have stepped in to back-fill key city pairings. One of these is Scottish carrier Loganair who has secured three former Flybmi routes from Aberdeen. From March 4, the airline will fly from the Granite City to Bristol, Oslo Gardermoen and Esbjerg in Denmark. The firm will also pick up the strategically important links between Newcastle and both Stavanger and Brussels from March 25.
Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair managing director commented: “It’s always really sad to see an airline go out of business, and our thoughts are with all those affected – particularly staff members. We are evaluating flybmi’s wider network and assessing routes which align with Loganair’s distinct geographical area and overall strategic plans. We are also working on employment opportunities for pilots, cabin crew and engineering support staff to strengthen the Loganair team.”
Elsewhere, the City of Derry Airport has been one of the hardest hit by the move, losing its sole link to London. Flybmi had operated the PSO (public service obligation) route since 2017, offering two return flights each day, except Saturdays. Authorities at the airport and in government are understood to be in advanced discussions with possible operators to take over the service as a matter of urgency.