After a few turbulent months, Britain’s largest regional airline Flybe has gone into administration due to a rising fear in the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus and as debts have been uncontrollably  increasing.

On the 5th March 2020, at 3 am, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that the airline had collapsed; all flights were cancelled, all aircrafts were grounded and many airports were closed. In the recent months, Flybe has faced difficulty with selling their tickets. After the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the airline has seen more and more empty flights as concerns have risen over the virus because passengers want to avoid catching it. Many other British flag carriers such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have cancelled flights to eastern Asia and as new cases in Europe are being discovered every day, passenger’s concerns are rising.

In an interview, the chief executive, Mark Anderson stated that the airline had made “every possible attempt” to prevent the airline from entering administration but were “unable to overcome significant funding challenges”. In 2019, the airline made a loss of £19.2m, even though they were purchased by a consortium consisting of Connect Airways, which is made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners. Flybe claimed that this loss was primarily due to rising fuel costs (100 litres of fuel had increased to £60 October onwards, a 39% increase from before) and the declining value of the pound from Brexit implications. Over the past 14 months, Stobart said that Connect Airlines had invested over £135m to keep the airline in the skies; however Flybe was unable to repay the money as they couldn’t sell their tickets due to health concerns.

One of the most important significant mistakes Flybe made was the purchase of 35 Embraer ERJ 175s in 2010 which totalled up to £990m. This order also came with an option of a further 105 aircrafts of that type, showing huge growth from and a shift in operation to a more modern airline, from turboprops to jets. However, for the low cost airline, their already existing De Havilland Canada Dash 8 seemed like a much cheaper and efficient option. 4 years later, in 2014, Flybe announced that is will cancelled the remaining orders after receiving 11 of the Embraer jets to avoid being unable to repay the debt. Seeking expansion, the airline bought 24 second hand Q400s from the American airline Republic Airways, as they were cheaper to buy and operate and maintain. Also, they had leased some Embraer E195 but in 2018 they decided to return them all as the Q400s were a better option overall. This small error of switching aircrafts in and out of their fleet cost Flybe millions, adding to their debt.

It’s a business tactic to lower prices, hoping you gain customers. However, Flyebe’s competitor, Loganair opened up several new Scottish routes quite similar to Flybe in 2017 causing a “price war”.  Both airlines reduced their prices in hope to gain passengers but instead, in 2018, Loganair stated it made a loss of £8.93m, £6.8m of which was thought to be caused by the price war between the 2 airlines. Things didn’t get better, Flybe’s losses were worse, totalling up to £9.4m. In late 2019, the two airlines got together announcing a new codeshare partnership but the both were already deep in debt.

Currently, after Flybe’s collapse, Loganair is still flying and recently took on 16 of Flybe’s routes to decrease chaos at airports and disruptions to passenger’s holidays. Many airports will also be affected; Flybe has 100% of flights flying in and out of Anglesey Airport, 95% to Southampton Airport and 79.5% to George Best Belfast City Airport. All of these Flybe hubs will be negatively affected.  Plus, Flybe stopping flights will also create more slots at tight-scheduled airports such as Heathrow. This would enable more airlines to create more routes, bearing in mind that the 3rd runway is quite unlikely. Airlines like Vistara would have the opportunity to expand, sadly from the shutdown of Britain’s most loved regional carrier. After 40 years of service, many customers have benefitted from their affordable and convenient flights from small airports around the UK, and will be missed by many.