Unions voice government criticism over failure of Flybe

The Unite union reacted to the collapse of Flybe by accusing the government of failing to learn from the failure of the original Flybe in 2020, Monarch and Thomas Cook.

The pilots’ union Balpa also called for a revamp of rules to prevent a repeat of the “sudden and precipitous” collapse of Flybe.

A total of 277 of the regional carrier’s 321 staff face redundancy with a total of 75,000 passengers reportedly having their flights cancelled.

Flybe was scheduled to serve 17 destinations across the UK and Europe this year, with Belfast City, Birmingham and Heathrow being the largest destinations by flights, according to aviation data firm Cirium.

The airline ran seven daily flights from Heathrow to Amsterdam, Belfast, Newcastle and Newquay

Flybe was set to operate 292 flights in the week from January 30 – equating to more than 22,700 seats.  

The reborn Flybe took to the skies for the first time in April 2022 with a new base at Birmingham airport after the brand was revived with a fleet of ATR turboprop aircraft.

Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “The government has not learned the lessons from the original collapse of Flybe.

“It has failed to introduce the Airline Insolvency Bill, which would have allowed Flybe to continue to operate, avoided passengers being stranded and staff losing their jobs in the middle of the night.

“In recent years the UK has seen the collapse of Monarch, Thomas Cook and Flybe twice; how many more airlines will be allowed to plunge into administration before the government introduces the measures needed to protect the UK’s aviation industry and its passengers?”

Balpa voiced regret about the failure and the “terrible effects this has on the hardworking Flybe staff, the disappointed customers and the reputation of UK civil aviation. 

“The sudden collapse of airlines in this way is hugely damaging for all involved”.

General secretary Martin Chalk added: “Many of the staff of Flybe will have recently suffered the harrowing effects of one bankruptcy, and now they are being subjected to yet another.

“Balpa will not only support its members through this difficult time, but will seek to work with the DfT [Department for Transport] to improve the regulatory framework to avoid such sudden and precipitous events in the future.”

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “This will be terrible news to Flybe passengers, many of whom used the airline regularly where it provided essential services from regional airports.”

And he warned: “Very few passengers flying Flybe will be on Atol protected packages so the government is unlikely to step in and repatriate those abroad or provide refunds.

“Instead passengers with travel insurance should check if their policy includes scheduled operator failure cover. 

“Alternately, those who booked tickets costing more than £100 with a credit card will be able to claim from their credit card provider. 

“If the tickets were under £100 or booked with a debit card, passengers can try to use chargeback from their bank or card provider.”

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