Key questions about Flybe’s uncertain future

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

The future of Flybe remains in doubt as the Government continues to consider what support it will provide.

Here the PA news agency looks at nine key questions around the airline.

– How big is Flybe?

It is much smaller than the likes of British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, but with around nine million passengers a year Flybe is the largest regional carrier in Europe.

– Where does it fly?

It serves around 170 destinations and has a major presence at UK airports such as Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester and Southampton. It flies the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.

– Wasn’t Flybe saved last year?

The airline was bought by a consortium comprising of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital in February 2019, but it has continued to make losses.

– Why is it struggling?

A series of issues have affected Flybe’s finances, including rising fuel costs, falling demand, competition from road, rail and other airlines, plus a weakening of the pound.

– What about Air Passenger Duty (APD)?

Passengers departing on flights from UK airports must pay APD, with some exclusions. It adds £26 to the price of most return domestic flights such as those operated by Flybe.

Chancellor Sajid Javid is holding talks with the business and transport secretaries to reportedly discuss whether to cut the tax for all domestic flights or allow Flybe to defer paying this year’s bill of an estimated £106 million.

– What do environmental groups say?

They are outraged at suggestions APD could be cut. Greenpeace claimed the aviation sector has “got away for years with increasing its carbon footprint”, adding that providing an incentive to boost flying would be “the last thing we need”.

– Is Flybe still operating?

The airline has continued to operate as normal since it emerged on Sunday night that its bosses were engaged in crisis talks with the Government. Passengers are advised to go to airports as usual.

– What rights do passengers have?

If the airline fails, it is likely that all flights will be cancelled.

Passengers who have not made an Atol-protected package holiday booking will likely have to attempt to obtain a refund from their credit or debit card provider. Most travel insurance policies do not cover airline failure.

– Will people be stranded overseas?

After the collapse of airlines Thomas Cook and Monarch, the Government ordered the Civil Aviation Authority to repatriate people stranded abroad. It is not known if a similar operation would be launched if Flybe’s flights are grounded.