Passenger chaos after Flybmi ceases flight operations

Passengers stranded across Europe have told of their frustration after the UK regional airline Flybmi collapsed, cancelling all its flights.

The company said uncertainty over Brexit and rises in fuel and carbon costs led it to go into administration.

One Briton stuck in Belgium said the airline would not refund her fare and she could not afford an alternative.

Flybmi made its announcement on Saturday afternoon, leaving 376 employees at risk of redundancy.

The airline has told affected travellers to contact their insurance and credit card companies.

Flybmi, which is based near East Midlands Airport, operated 17 aircraft and flew to 25 European cities.

Durham University student Mary Ward discovered her flight could be affected when her mother showed her a news report.

She then received a text from the airline that said: “URGENT: Important message for Flybmi customers. All flights are cancelled. Please go to for further details. Thank you.”

Ms Ward had been set to fly from Brussels to Newcastle but is unsure how she will return to the UK.

“I paid £130 for my flight which it doesn’t seem I’m going to get back – I don’t know how I am going to get back to Durham,” she said.

“I can’t afford any of the flights or the Eurostar.”

‘Not confident’

Richard Edwards, from West Sussex, said he and his family experienced problems with a scheduled flight to Munich when travelling to Austria for a skiing holiday.

“We had gone through security at Bristol Airport when there was an announcement saying our flight had been cancelled,” he said.

“They laid on taxis to Heathrow and booked us on a Lufthansa flight to Munich.

“I don’t know how we will get back yet. I’m not confident Flybmi will be able to sort it.”

Rory Boland, travel editor for consumer body Which?, said some customers had claimed tickets were being sold in the hours before the airline filed for administration, “knowing full well those tickets would never be honoured”.

“Passengers will rightly be outraged if this is proved to be the case,” he added.

Flybmi issued the following advice to those with flights booked:

  • People who booked directly with Flybmi should contact their card issuer to seek a refund
  • Passengers who booked via a travel agent or one of Flybmi’s partner airlines should contact them to ask about their options
  • Those with travel insurance should see if they are eligible to claim for cancelled flights

The Civil Aviation Authority also published advice for travellers.

A spokesman for the Flybmi said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement.

“The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU’s recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“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.”

One of Flybmi’s routes, which connected Stansted and Londonderry, was subsidised by the government to boost trade and travel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Several people use the flights for work and Derry Strabane Council said it was in emergency talks with the Department of Transport to seek a replacement airline for the route.