Regional airline Flybe has announced that it has ceased to operate after failing to raise additional funding. The company declared its collapse in the early hours of Thursday morning (5 March), stating that travel cancellations due to coronavirus was the final straw for the financially unstable company.
Following the announcement, the airline immediately grounded all flights and told passengers not to travel to airports if they had upcoming journeys booked.
Flybe carried around eight million passengers a year, between 71 airports across the UK and Europe. Its collapse could leave thousands of people forced to find alternative ways to travel and out of pocket for fares.
So what are your rights if you had a Flybe flight booked?
Will I lose my flight booking?
Yes, the collapse of an airline means all planes are grounded and services are cancelled. There are currently no alternatives for most people other than to book another flight - although there have been a few generous offers from different airlines, train and bus companies.
National Express have also offered free coach travel to anyone booked on to a domestic flight where there is a comparable coach route available.
Will I be able to get a refund for my flight?
Some travel insurance companies will cover the cost of cancelled flights if they are the result of an airline collapse, but not all policies provide this coverage.
Flights bought directly from airlines such as Flybe are not generally ATOL (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) protected, but those bought through a separate travel company may be covered.
Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said, "ATOL protection will cover your flights, accommodation and car hire if they were part of a package deal, but it won't cover incidentals such as meals and taxis.
“If you paid for any of your booking by credit card, you may also be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which protects amounts between £100 and £30,000 or see if your debit card provider offers the Chargeback scheme to allow you to claim back any losses.”
What is the ATOL scheme?
ATOL, which is run by the government and the Civil Aviation Authority, is a scheme that’s designed to make sure customers don’t lose money or end up stranded abroad in the event of an airline collapsing.
What if I am already on holiday?
When previous airlines such as Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook collapsed, the Civil Aviation Authority was ordered by the Department for Transport to launch a major repatriation operation to fly them home.
Some 600,000 Thomas Cook customers were stranded abroad and needed repatriation when the company went into administration. It is not yet clear whether the government will order a similar widespread repatriation of stranded Flybe passengers.
What did Flybe say?
Richard Moriarty Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said, “This is a sad day for UK aviation and we know that Flybe's decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its employees and customers.
“We urge passengers planning to fly with this airline not to go to the airport as all Flybe flights are cancelled. For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the CAA website or the CAA's Twitter feed for more information.
“Flybe also operated a number of codeshare partnerships with international airlines. If you have an international ticket you should make contact with that airline to confirm your travel arrangements.”