Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe, collapsed overnight with the loss of thousands of jobs and several lifeline air links to parts of the United Kingdom.
All flights have been grounded and passengers were advised not to go to airports unless they had made alternative flight arrangements.
At several airports, aircraft were impounded after the final flight of the day late on Wednesday.
“All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect,” the airline said.
The long-troubled carrier had been losing money for several years and was already facing vast cash shortages when fears over COVID-19 sent bookings into freefall.
Its owners — a consortium backed by investors including Virgin Atlantic — had sought a government bailout but it is understood this was ruled out by ministers.
It is the second UK-based -based airline in four months to face failure. Thomas Cook went bust in September.
Flybe, which had a major presence at airports such as Exeter, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Belfast City and Southampton, had been flying some 9 million passengers a year to 170 destinations.
Sad times for all staff at #Flybe tonight. If you’re travelling home or to an alternative route tonight with them please be kind. You might be delayed or put on an alternative route but these are people’s careers? pic.twitter.com/vkxEKvz0bZ
— Beth (@bethanymcgx) March 4, 2020
As one of my fellow passengers says.. “we were so close”.
Everyone in agreement here though.. we’ve been inconvenienced but the staff here have potentially lost their jobs. No one is complaining.
— Holly Hamilton (@HollyHNews) March 4, 2020
— Rich Booth (@rich_booth) March 4, 2020
Sat on tarmac at Manchester, diverted from Glasgow. Being told it’s for refuelling but everything else on Twitter suggesting that’s not correct??
— Frank McCready (@McCreadyFrank) March 4, 2020
— Christopher Woods (@chriswoods1978) March 5, 2020
This is my niece who recently qualified as a pilot only to lose her job with FlyBe going bust. Any jobs for a young, brilliant pilot?? @cathaypacific @British_Airways @emirates @easyJet ? https://t.co/5vR1v7RxuD
— Andy Nicol (@AndyNic9) March 5, 2020