Flybmi Becomes Latest European Carrier to Go Bust

A Flybmi Embraer ERJ 135-ER taxiing to the terminal. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Justin Sinanan)

The U.K.’s Flybmi is the latest airline to cease operations following an announcement on the airline’s website last weekend. The news brings an end to the British Midland franchise that dates back to the 1960s and misery to thousands of passengers due to fly out this weekend at the beginning of the school term break.

The airline operated short-haul routes to 25 European destinations with a fleet of 17 aircraft. Three Embraer ERJ-135s and 14 ERJ-145s were operating out of bases in Aberdeen, Bristol, Brussels, East Midlands, Newcastle and Munich. On Saturday evening, the aircraft that were on the mainland European continent positioned to Norwich Airport in England to be stored until a new operator is found.

The statement announcing the end of the airline’s tenure highlighted “several difficulties” for the decision behind closing down the airline. These included recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs. The uncertainty throughout the two-year process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union has also been attributed to the airline’s demise.

“These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit. Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and lack of confidence around BMI’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe. Additionally, our situation mirrors wider difficulties in the regional airline industry which have been well documented.”

Last year, Flybmi operated 29,000 flights carrying 522,000 passengers giving an average passenger load of 18 people per flight. The airline effectively became independent after British Midland International (BMI) was bought by British Airways in 2012. This lead to the regional carrier operating under new owners.

In 2015 Flybmi became part of a new regional airline group, Airline Investments Limited (AIL), and became a sister airline to Scottish regional airline Loganair. Loganair has since confirmed that it will pick up at least six routes that were operated by Flybmi and begin operations from the beginning of March from Aberdeen and Newcastle.

Despite an investment of £40 million over the past six years, the airline has struggled to stay operational. The news of the airline closing will leave at least 376 employees without a job. However, airlines such as British Airways Mainline and subsidiary CityFlyer, Loganair and Ryanair have openly asked for the likes of pilots, cabin crew and engineers to apply to their respective job openings.

“Our employees have worked extremely hard over the last few years and we would like to thank them for their dedication to the company, as well as all our loyal customers who have flown with us over the last 6 years.”

The news of Flybmi going bust adds another name to the list of smaller airlines that have struggled to maintain a foothold in the European market. Although U.K. based Flybe seems to now be in a safer position than 12 months ago due to undergoing the process of being bought by a new group lead by Virgin Atlantic, many other airlines have not been as lucky. Airlines such as Air Berlin, Germania, Small Planet Airlines, Monarch, Primera have all ceased operations in the past two years.

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James Dinsdale

James is a keen aviation enthusiast from the United Kingdom. He has been flying since the age of 13 and today, aged 23, flies the Airbus A319/320 series for one of Europe's largest airlines.
James Dinsdale
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