Flybe may be just the start of airline failures

Flybe is dead. Ravaged by a near 60% drop in advanced bookings – which is basically the money the airline lives on, it couldn’t sustain operations when it was already under huge financial pressure.

Around 2,000 staff have lost their jobs.

It’s a major loss for U.K. regions like Newquay and Southampton – Flybe operated 95% of the flights out of the later for example.

Virgin Atlantic and it’s partners at Connect Airways who bought the airline for just £2m, spent £135m over the past 12 months propping the airline up. The government extended a tax holiday to the airline in January to keep it afloat but the coronavirus killed it.

The world of corporate air travel has come to a near stop almost overnight. Virgin Atlantic is offering unpaid leave to staff, it’s CEO is taking no pay for four months, and it’s admitted bookings are 40% down on last year.

RyanAir has also slashed its schedules and British Airways has been reducing frequencies and changing timetables rapidly but more quietly.

Most of the big airlines have the leeway to cope and mechanisms to allow them to deal with harder times, but many of the smaller airlines, and any with a weak balance sheet, are not going to see six months of ultra low bookings out.

Flybe is a sad end to a proud airline, but it’s not going to be the last.