UK Politics

Flybe: Why airline is a crucial cog in UK transport network


Warnings of financial troubles at any airline immediately give rise to concerns of flights being grounded, lost holidays, repatriations and scraps for refunds.

After all, we've been here before.

Just four months ago, the UK's largest peacetime repatriation effort was underway following the demise of the tour operator Thomas Cook. Think Monarch too.

Image: Thomas Cook's demise in September meant more than 150,000 people had to be flown home from abroad

The story by Sky's City editor Mark Kleinman on Sunday night that Flybe was fighting for its future was a shock but it is no Thomas Cook. It is no Monarch.

What is Flybe?


Flybe is the largest independent airline in Europe by passenger numbers – eight million annually.

That sounds like a lot but Ryanair has almost double that number of customers in just a single peak month.

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Where does it fly to?

Flybe operates from 71 airports across the UK and Europe, with more than 189 routes across 12 countries.

Its key selling point is its UK domestic services – connecting more than two dozen regional airports outside of London to take advantage of poor rail connectivity.

The airline has been a staple of business customers for that reason – with fares seen as competitive in comparison.

It is the biggest provider of such services and therefore crucial to many smaller UK airports who depend on the day-to-day flights.

The bulk of Flybe's 2,000 staff are in the UK.

An EasyJet plane takes off at London City Airport
Image: Flybe's core operations connect UK regional airports including Manchester, Edinburgh and London City and Exeter

What has gone wrong?

The revelation of financial difficulties was a shock because it was less than a year ago that its future was apparently secured.

Flybe sold its operating assets to a consortium for £2.2m.

Under the deal Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and Cyrus Capital agreed to pump £100m into the airline in return for a rebrand under the name Virgin Connect – due to be rolled out this year.

But it is understood that investment has fallen short of requirements as Flybe continues to battle a weak pound, industry price war, rising fuel costs and Brexit-related uncertainty.

How worried should I be?

If you have bought tickets for a future fliRead More – Source