Well this came out of nowhere. Less than a year after launching operations, Flybe has gone out of business again. Yes, the (sort of) same Flybe that went out of business back in 2020, but was then relaunched with new investors…
In this post:
Flybe is out of business as of January 28, 2023
Flybe has announced that it has filed for administration, ceased all operations, and that flights will not be rescheduled. Flybe is advising passengers not to travel to the airport, and is stating that the company is unable to arrange alternative flights for passengers.
Administrators have now been appointed for Flybe, who will work as insolvency practitioners.
For those not familiar with Flybe, this is a regional airline in the United Kingdom that operated a fleet of nine Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. The current iteration of the airline only launched operations in April 2022, so the airline flew for just nine months.
Admittedly Flybe definitely faced an uphill battle as an airline — demand in the UK is seasonal, the UK has very high aviation taxes, there’s tons of competition from ultra low cost carriers, and the Q400 doesn’t exactly have great per passenger costs. It seems like Flybe wasn’t well funded enough to make it through the winter.
The previous Flybe collapsed in early 2020
This isn’t the first time that Flybe has ceased operations and filed for administration. Back in March 2020, the previous version of Flybe went out of business. At the time, Flybe was the largest independent regional airline in Europe, with a fleet of around 75 aircraft.
Flybe was struggling financially (as has been the case for so many airlines in Europe), and at the beginning of 2019 the airline was purchased by the Connect Airways consortium, backed by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Aviation. The airline was purchased for next to nothing (in airline terms) — around £2m.
When Flybe was taken over, the Connect Airways consortium promised to inject £100m into the airline. That included £20m to support the immediate operations, and a further £80m to be invested in the future.
The plan was for Flybe to rebrand as Virgin Connect, given that Virgin Atlantic had long struggled with the regional market. The airline had tried its hand at operating select regional routes back in 2013 with “Virgin Atlantic Little Red,” but the concept didn’t work out, and was discontinued within a couple of years.
Unfortunately even with that plan, things never quite worked out. In early 2020 there started to be rumors that Flybe was looking to secure additional funding amid huge losses. Unfortunately the company didn’t quite have enough cash to stay in business.
What’s the connection between the older Flybe and the newer Flybe? Well, it was mainly just that a private equity firm purchased the name and website. The company also ended up leasing some former Flybe planes, and then largely replicated the old business model. So it’s not too surprising that the new concept didn’t work out.
Flybe has filed for administration, ceasing operations effective immediately. Being a regional airline in the UK isn’t exactly a great business model, between the high taxes, seasonal demand, and small, inefficient aircraft.
Sadly this is the second time that the company has gone out of business. In this case, Flybe operated for roughly nine months before ceasing operations.
What do you make of Flybe going out of business?