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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Flybe: Passenger frustration after airline cancels all flights

Flybe passengers are facing chaos and frustration after the airline went into administration.

Flybe had only restarted operations last April after collapsing in 2020, and now passengers are again left disappointed and forking out for alternative travel.

The majority of Flybe staff – 138 people – are based at Belfast City Airport.

The airport’s chief executive said the news was disappointing and unexpected.

The news came in the early hours of Saturday morning – the first flight out of Belfast City Airport was for Newcastle and it was due to leave at 07:00 GMT.

Chris Donnelly was scheduled to fly from Belfast City to Heathrow at 07:25.

At 03:07 he received an email from Flybe which said the company had gone into administration and his flight had been cancelled – it also advised passengers not to travel to the airport.

Mr Donnelly, a school principal and political commentator, was on his way to the airport when he saw the email.

He managed to book an alternative flight to London Gatwick but said it was inconvenient and short notice from the airline.

Mr Donnelly added he had booked train tickets from Heathrow into central London costing £50, which were of no use to him now.

Belfast City Airport departures board


One woman on Twitter said her daughter had been due to fly back to university from Belfast City on Saturday and had just spent nearly £200 on an alternative option.

“And, just like last time, they were still taking peoples’ money up until the day before,” she wrote. “Absolutely disgusting treatment of staff and customers.”

  • Regional airline Flybe cancels all flights

Flybe operated 10 routes from Belfast City including services to Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Amsterdam.

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Analysis box by John Campbell, NI economic and business editor

The last time Flybe collapsed it was a potentially existential event for the City Airport.

Flybe was its biggest operator and with pandemic restrictions taking a grip it was unclear when or if Flybe would be replaced.

This time is different. IAG, with its Aer Lingus and BA brands, is now the main customer of the airport.

And on eight of Flybe’s 10 routes the airport already offers an alternative carrier.

However there must now be a question whether an independent UK regional airline in the Flybe mould is now viable.

If not it could mean less competition and ultimately higher prices for customers.

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The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder said customers should “almost certainly” get their money back from their card issuer or travel agent.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “Of course finding alternative flights is going to be a problem, and they are going to be more expensive than the ones they originally bought with Flybe.”

Matthew Hall, chief executive of Belfast City Airport, said their thoughts were with Flybe employees and passengers affected by the “disappointing and unexpected” news.

“Passengers booked on Flybe flights should not travel to the airport and should seek further advice from the Civil Aviation Authority,” he said.

“Flybe operated 10 flights to and from Belfast City, eight of which are currently served by other carriers from our airport.”

For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

The Consumer Council said it was important passengers knew their rights with regards to compensation and assistance, pointing people to their website.

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