Brexit and fuel prices cause regional UK airline to end operation

Flybmi has advised its customers not to travel to the airport unless they’ve purchased flights through another company.

A plane flies over the setting sun in the sky at Beijing International Airport
Brexit is putting pressure on businesses in the UK [File: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

British regional airline Flybmi announced on Saturday it had ceased operations and was filing for administration, blaming spikes in fuel and carbon costs and uncertainty over Brexit.

Parent company British Midland Regional Limited said it had cancelled all flights with immediate effect, and would not be able to buy, rearrange or reschedule any bookings on behalf of customers.

Flybmi, based in the East Midlands region of England, operated 17 aircraft on routes to 25 European cities and had 376 employees based in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement today,” a company spokesperson said in a statement posted on its website.

“The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs.

“Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process,” the spokesperson added.

Flybmi had been unable to secure post-Brexit flying contracts in Europe and feared it may not be able to continue serving destinations on the continent after Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, according to the statement.

“Against this background, it has become impossible for the airline’s shareholders to continue their extensive programme of funding into the business,” it said. 

The decision comes despite investments totalling over more than $51m in the last six years, according to the company.

The airline, which said it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights last year, operated under codeshare agreements with a host of European partners, including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Air France.

Its flights operated out of Aberdeen, Bristol, East Midlands, London Stansted, Newcastle and Derry in the UK, as well as a host of European airports, including Frankfurt, Milan Bergamo, Munich, and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

In a lengthy notice posted online, it told customers not to travel to airports unless they have re-booked flights with alternative providers.

It advised them to seek refunds for their cancelled reservations from credit card companies, booking websites or travel insurance providers.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in less than six weeks.

But its parliament is yet to approve a withdrawal agreement with the bloc, leaving businesses increasingly concerned that the country may crash out without a deal.  

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies