Hundreds of passengers with bookings on Flybe have had their flights cancelled in the present day, with circumstances on the troubled regional airline indicating additional cancellations.

Our journey correspondent is a frequent flyer on Flybe and has been following the airline’s fortunes – and misfortunes.

Simply remind us about Flybe and their current travails…

We’ll let you know what’s true. You may kind your individual view.
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Flybe and its predecessors, British European and Jersey European, has been connecting the UK for 4 a long time. However together with different airways, Flybe went into the winter season with the prospect of shedding tens of hundreds of thousands of kilos, and saying it was looking for a rescue.

A white knight duly appeared in January within the form of a consortium of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and a US hedge fund – which paid only a penny a share for the airline, however have pumped in hundreds of thousands of kilos to maintain Flybe aloft – and, certainly, rising; with new flights launched this weekend from Newquay and Guernsey to Heathrow.

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Air Berlin, which operated flights to and from Berlin Tegel, went bankrupt in 2017

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Lithuanian airline Small Planet filed for insolvency on the finish of 2018

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What has occurred in the present day?

Flybe determined final evening to cancel round 30 flights, and advised affected passengers by textual content and emails. Belfast Metropolis is worst hit, with at the least 10 cancellations and no possibility to modify to street or rail. A lot of the flights are home, however hyperlinks akin to Bordeaux to Birmingham, Dusseldorf to Southampton and Cardiff to Verona are additionally grounded.

What has the airline been saying – and the way do you interpret the state of affairs?

Flybe stored quiet for the primary a part of the morning, however shortly earlier than 10am launched a press release which stated the cancellations had been attributable to a mix of things together with:

“Seasonality” and “Easter holidays” – the summer time season started on the weekend, however each airline must be ready for the rise in frequency that occurs on the finish of every March and whereas Easter isn’t mounted, its dates are identified far into the long run.

“Pilots’ finish of depart 12 months” – the issue that Ryanair had 18 months in the past, and once more one thing that administration ought to plan for.

And a “scarcity of pilots throughout the trade”. Plenty of sources have advised me that there’s a very acute scarcity of pilots throughout Flybe, the place flight crew are leaving. Partly that’s as a result of they’re livid in regards to the Flybe sale, which noticed the worth shareholdings they’d been given in lieu of pay rises lowered to nearly nothing. And partly as a result of they wish to work for airways in stronger monetary form, akin to British Airways and easyJet.

Flybe says “We’ve already recognized a number of mitigation actions” – whereas passengers wait to study extra, are you able to guess what they may be?

The issues which have the airline on Wednesday might trigger comparable issues on Thursday, Friday and into the weeks forward, creating a way of chaos – and costing Flybe hundreds of thousands in compensation funds.

The airline will probably be taking a look at “consolidating” flights – for instance decreasing the variety of departures between Manchester and Southampton from 5 a day to 4. And it might additionally take into account shopping for in capability from different airways, although due to the world-wide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, which implies there are fewer planes and pilots accessible.

You talked about compensation – what are passengers entitled to?

Flybe says: ”All these affected have been emailed and suggested they’ll re-book for journey on an alternate flight or apply for a full refund.” However that’s solely a part of the story. Anybody who needs to proceed their journey can insist on a alternative flight on the earliest accessible alternative – even when this implies being positioned on a flight with a rival air provider.

For a route akin to Cardiff to Verona, which is barely as soon as per week, that will probably be important. And if Flybe doesn’t routinely achieve this then passengers can guide it themselves and declare the price again. Any travellers who’re delayed in a single day ought to be supplied with a resort room, in addition to meals. And each passenger seems entitled to €250 (£215) in compensation below European air passengers’ rights guidelines.

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For passengers with future bookings on Flybe – what’s your recommendation?

On in the present day’s foundation there’s a 95 per cent likelihood your flight will go forward as regular – so that you definitely don’t have the proper to cancel with out penalty. As with all flight, any time, anyplace, you should have a plan B in case it goes mistaken. For routes inside mainland Nice Britain that might imply street or rail, however for Northern Eire and the Channel Islands that’s not an possibility.

We have seen different airline collapses lately. Is Flybe subsequent?

Flybmi, the smaller regional airline, went bust a month in the past, and Wow Air of Iceland ceased buying and selling final week. Flybe continues to be shedding a prodigious amount of money, however its new buyers are pumping in tens of hundreds of thousands of kilos as a result of they consider there’s a future for a leaner, smaller regional airline – explicit one with an interesting portfolio of slots at Heathrow. So I don’t anticipate Flybe to fail any time quickly.