Earlier this week, there were a number of news reports circulating that FlyBe was about to slip into bankruptcy.
Yet, by the UK government potentially allowing them to defer a £100m tax bill, they could be saved. For now.
Now, those of you who have followed me since the very beginning will know that I haven’t had the best relationship with FlyBe. And you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m being a little biased when writing this piece. Maybe you’d be right. But I’ll try to justify my reasons for saying it might be best to let them die peacefully, rather than keep them on life support.
I know that there are likely to be more than a few people coming from the angle of “but what about the 2000 people that would be out of work?”. Yes, I agree. Having been made redundant myself previously, I can agree that it’s not the best feeling. But how do you think the FlyBe staff will be feeling in 6-12 months time? They could potentially be facing the same situation again. I know that I would rather get it over with and move on to another job. And whats to say a few of them won’t be considering such a move already?
Remember when Monarch almost went out of business in 2016, but were saved at the 11th hour? It was only 12 months later that the cash ran out for good. Why would it be any different with FlyBe?
For as long as I can remember, FlyBe have been struggling. In my opinion, it’ss more a case of when rather than if they’re no longer around. Just a matter of months after they were supposedly saved by the Virgin/Stobart/Cyrus buyout, once more they find themselves struggling. So why would this latest effort to save them be any different? The government are looking to bail them out on this occasion. But they are clearly a failing airline, and have been for many years. So what are the chances of getting it all turned around in the next few months before they have to pay the taxes owed? I guess you could argue that with new management in place, things could be different.
But They Are The UK’s Only Regional Airline
Yes. But they are not the UK’s only airline full stop. The airline doesn’t have the best reputation. From looking at social media, there are seemingly daily complaints about ambiguous cabin baggage rules. There are a number of complaints about the reliability of flights, hence the nickname FlyMayBe. I’ve also seen numerous complaints about poor customer service, of which I have experienced first hand.
Maybe it’s time to let someone else have a shot at it? There are a number of smaller UK airlines that could step up to fill the void on some routes.
- Logan Air
- Blue Islands
- Stobart Air
- BA Cityflyer
- Eastern Airways
Maybe we could even see British Airways re-launch BA Connect? Between the major cities, we could see the likes of EasyJet and British Airways step up. EasyJet have already announced their intentions to launch flights between Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh in March 2020. I’m sure British Airways would have no issues filling the void on FlyBe’s Heathrow routes. Even Newquay. British Airways served the Cornwall airport from London Gatwick until 2008, when the route was suspended due to the recession.
In the case of both Blue Islands and Aurigny, you could argue that they are primarily based in the Channel Islands. And you’d be right. However, FlyBe was previously known as Jersey European. It only inherited the network hat it has today from acquiring BA Connect back in 2007.
With a number of Bombardier Q400 aircraft in storage and a number of unemployed staff with experience of the industry, it would be an opportunity for either airline to expand on the cheap.
Their Already Poor Reputation Will Now Be Even Worse
As discussed earlier, there are a number of factors that mean Flybe don’t have the best reputation. But that is only really well known to those either within the industry or those who have to deal with the airline on a regular basis.
For the last couple of days (and counting) the situation at the airline has been national news in the UK. Now, a lot more of the population are aware of them for all the wrong reasons. Therefore, its likely that more people will avoid booking with the airline, especially as the collapse of Thomas Cook was so well documented in the media.
I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I don’t recall an airline that has been in such dire straits that it has had its name plastered all over the national news, yet has managed to successfully come out the other side just fine.
FlyBe is currently flying a full schedule. But for how long?