UK Regional Carrier Flybe Ceases Operations

 - January 30, 2023, 9:32 AM
A Flybe De Havilland Dash 8-400 taxis at Manchester Airport in the UK. (Photo: Barry Ambrose)

For the second time in less than three years, UK regional airline Flybe has ceased operations. The carrier—which struggled financially for some time despite several restructuring efforts—flew its last revenue service on January 28.

The UK High Court has named David John Pike and Michael Robert Pink as joint administrators authorized to act as insolvency practitioners by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. In a statement, the UK Civil Aviation Authority advised affected customers of alternative services from British Airways, EasyJet, and Ryanair at discounted prices.

Flybe operated scheduled services from Belfast City, Birmingham, and London Heathrow to airports across the UK and to Amsterdam and Geneva. Its last insolvency filing, in March 2020, marked the fourth in the UK since 2017. At the time, Flybe ranked as the largest regional airline in Europe, flying 54 De Havilland Dash 8-400s, three Embraer E195s, nine E175s, and two ATR 72s.

The company relaunched under new owners in April 2022, but as a smaller operation offering flights to 17 destinations with a fleet of eight Dash 8-400s.

In a written statement, Interpath Advisory managing director Stuart Irwin called Flybe's closure "devastating news" to those who supported the company since its reopening, including employees, passengers, funders, and the wider aviation industry. “Significant efforts have been made over recent months by the board and key stakeholders to try to safeguard the future of the business, including seeking new investors and exploring a sales process for the business," he said. "Unfortunately, these efforts did not reach a successful conclusion."

However, Irwin left open the possibility of yet another rescue effort. “The administration process provides us with the ability to potentially preserve or dispose of some elements of the business after the appointment and, in that regard, we plan to preserve scaled-back elements of the operating platform for a short period such that a rescue transaction remains a possibility," he added. "Should any interested party want to explore reviving the airline, I’d encourage them to come forward and make contact with the utmost urgency.”

Separately, on Monday morning, Norwegian budget carrier Flyr warned of a “serious financial situation” after it failed to raise new capital to pay the EU emission trading system quotas and to ramp up operations for the coming spring and summer seasons. “Market conditions and continued uncertainty with regards to airline travel and earnings through 2023 have deterred investors from committing capital for the required period of time,” Flyr noted in a statement.

It said management will assess any “alternatives” for continuing its business operations. Monday's flights to the Spanish cities of Malaga, Alicante, and Las Palmas are operating. Flyr has scheduled no flights for Tuesday and said that it will share information about future flights on “as soon as possible.” 

Flyr started in 2020 and flies from Oslo, Norway, to several European destinations with six Boeing 737-800s and six 737 Max 8s.