UK carrier Flybe has collapsed on Thursday due to a dramatic decline in demand for flights amidst the coronavirus outbreak, sealing the fate of the struggling airline.
Flybe announced that it has grounded all flights as it enters administration following the lack of demand for flights due to the coronavirus outbreak. It also confirmed that its business had “ceased trading with immediate effect” in the UK.
In a statement, the airline told customers: “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.”
It added that its financial challenges had been “compounded by the outbreak of coronavirus which in the last few days has resulted in a significant impact on demand.”
Founded in 1979, the Exeter-based budget carrier was at one point Europe’s largest independent regional airline, carrying 8 million passengers a year and operating more than 200 routes.
But the airline has struggled for a while and in January, the government announced that it was coordinating with Flybe regarding its finances and exploring options for a rescue, adding that Flybe’s management and shareholders were setting the airline “on a recovery path.”
However, the entire airline industry fell into a crisis due to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide, causing airlines to reduce their flight schedules, ground planes and ask staff to take unpaid leave to manage the loss of business.
According to the International Air Transport Authority (IATA), airlines are forecast to lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread around the world. Previously, IATA projected a loss of just within $30 billion range.
Rafael Schvartzman, the regional vice president for IATA, pointed out that the collapse of Flybe showed the urgent need for governments to support airlines. He said: “This development is proof that urgent action is required across Europe to protect air connectivity during a period of almost unprecedented crisis.”