Published: Wed, February 20, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Hundreds stranded as United Kingdom airline collapses

Hundreds stranded as United Kingdom airline collapses

On Saturday evening, the aircraft that were on the mainland European continent positioned to Norwich Airport in England to be stored until a new operator is found. Another two Embraer jets based in Munich will position to the United Kingdom this afternoon.

Flybmi staff who were due at work today were told to stay home while those who were working overseas were flown home.

The airline, which had also done business as British Midland, was a relatively small player, with just 17 planes and 25 destinations. The German flag carrier airline carried out extensive restructuring in an attempt to bring Flybmi to profitability-but this was never achieved. This lead to the regional carrier operating under new owners.

Flybmi operated a code share partnership with Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Loganair, Air France and Air Dolomiti.

Airlines could continue to be hard hit by the UK's departure, especially those that are not under EU-ownership.

The airline has several partnerships with global carriers.

Loganair, said its operations were not affected in the same way as Flybmi's as it operated a fleet of turboprop aircraft, which are cheaper to run on shorter routes, instead of jets. Passengers who are already overseas would be able to claim back the cost of a flight home.

It has been a tough period for European airlines, with Germania recently following Joon, Monarch, Cobalt Air, Flybe, airBerlin and Primera Air, among others, out of the market.

As of Saturday afternoon, Flybmi is continuing to sell tickets.

On Thursday, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the route between City of Derry Airport and London Stansted would be subsidised by the Government, in partnership with the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

It is particularly popular with business travellers due to its convenient flight times and ability to serve secondary routes often neglected by bigger airlines.

Flybmi informed customers that all customers set to travel with the company will need to rebook flights with an alternative airline.

The airline's sudden collapse has revived calls to implement stronger consumer protections for consumers in the event of airline bankruptcies in Europe. The airline faced fierce competition from both sides and collapsed amid its flawed strategy.

Flybmi cited uncertainty over Brexit and rising fuel costs as the causes of its collapse, but it had been reporting losses, and its investors were providing a subsidy of £13 per customer since 2012. It flew 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights in 2018.

BMI also blamed rising prices for European Union carbon allowances, which have more than doubled since the beginning of past year. This follows a year of particularly unfavourable conditions for the airlines.

Flybmi plays an important role in connecting travellers between the United Kingdom and cities on the continent but faces incredibly fierce competition from low-priced airline giants, which has left the airline vulnerable.

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