“I got an email asking me to check in, and 10 minutes later they had gone into administration.”
Andrew Gibbins was one of hundreds of passengers across the UK who have expressed frustration at regional airline Flybe, which abruptly announced its collapse on Saturday morning, telling any passengers expecting to travel with it not to go to the airport.
Gibbins, from Daventry, was due to fly on Sunday from Birmingham to Edinburgh for a work trip. He received one text at 2am on Saturday reminding him to check in, and this was followed just 10 minutes later with a second message announcing the collapse of the airline.
“I’m in a fortunate position compared to many because my company can pay for new flights. Anything else would have been tricky three days before payday in January,” he said.
Many passengers were left out of pocket or stranded at their outbound destination after the airline announced it would immediately cease trading and cancel all its scheduled flights.
Some had only booked their flight a few hours before the news broke.
One responded to the announcement on Twitter, saying: “Little frustrating as I only booked my flight on Thursday”. Another asked: “I booked a flight at 7pm last night – how could they let the booking go through?”
One passenger said they had been told at three hours’ notice that their flight was cancelled: “I got up at six and left the house before seven.
“I got to Hatton Central and I checked my email and it says they’ve gone into administration. It’s just outrageous.”
Some passengers shared stories on social media of other difficulties they’ve encountered with Flybe in recent months.
Tracy Flannigan, from Bangor, is still waiting for a refund and compensation that she applied for last October after her Flybe flight from Birmingham to Belfast was cancelled with little notice.
“This was the first trip I had gone on with my teenage daughter since before the pandemic and we wanted to make it extra special, but it ended very stressfully. I had to fork out extra money for hotels and food when our flight was cancelled, and despite chasing numerous times, I never got an apology or any compensation from Flybe.
“It’s the principle that upsets me – and knowing I’ve been lied to.”
In the short term, Flybe customers are being told it would be most effective to find another way to travel, such as booking new flights, or, if possible, taking a train or a coach.
Anyone with bookings has been advised to seek a refund from their credit card or debit card provider, claim on travel insurance or contact their travel provider if they didn’t book directly with Flybe.
The administrators have confirmed that 277 of Flybe’s 321 staff have been made redundant, while the remaining 44 would be retained.
Ryanair has offered a lifeline to staff affected, setting up a fast-track recruitment process for Flybe employees.