Flybe, the Exeter-based airline, mainly served domestic routes in the UK but did carry eight million passengers a year to 56 airports on more than 210 routes across 15 countries. Last year, the airline ran into difficulties and was bought out by British consortium Connect Airways who put in £30m to keep the business afloat.
What happens if Flybe collapses? Is Flybe ATOL protected?
On March 5, Flybe stopped operations of its 60 planes and filed for administration.
The airline had appealed for a £100m loan to the UK government, which was rejected.
This, coupled with the COVID-19 outbreak, accelerated Flybe’s collapse.
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Alana Gomez, spokeswoman for flight-comparison site www.jetcost.co.uk, said: “Coronavirus will likely become the scapegoat for Flybe’s collapse, but it would be obtuse and even dangerous to blame it wholly for the situation.
“The airline has been struggling for some time now and would likely have still gone under without the assistance of the virus.
“Despite its somewhat inevitability, the news about Flybe is deeply upsetting, not only for the travel industry as a whole, but for the 2,000 members of staff and local communities that will be hit the hardest.
“As one of the UK’s biggest regional airlines, a number of airports – such as Southampton and Anglesey – rely heavily on Flybe, and unless an alternative is sought, they could be in trouble themselves.”
The Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme (ATOL) was created in 1973 to stop passengers from losing out financially if their travel company ceases trading.
The scheme requires ATOL holders pay a fee for each traveller, which is held in a fund managed by the Air Travel Trust.
The money is used to refund, repatriate or reimburse travellers for the cost of repaying for the affected parts of their trip.
ATOL protects most trips booked as a package, such as flights and accommodation, or flights and car hire, and also applies to some flight-only bookings, particularly when the tickets are not received immediately.
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Flights bought directly from Flybe are not ATOL protected but some holidaymakers might get their money back if they paid by credit card or with some debit cards.
Travellers who bought their holiday via a separate travel agent may be covered.
Ms Gomez said: “Unfortunately, passengers are unlikely to be refunded by the airline itself, but those that have booked with credit or debit card should contact their provider, where they may be able to seek compensation, or travel insurance company if they have one.
“Our thoughts are with the employees of Flybe and our regional airports who, without additional support, could suffer the same fate as the airline.”
A Flybe statement posted on the airline’s Twitter page said: “Flybe entered administration on March 5, 2020, and Alan Hudson, Joanne Robinson, Lucy Winterborne and Simon Edel of EY have been appointed as Joint Administrators.
“All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect.
“If you are due to fly with Flybe, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline.
“Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.”
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