Uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit is a major factor in the demise of UK regional airline flybmi, which ceased operations on February 16 after going into receivership. The airline grounded all its 17 Embraer ERJ-135s and ERJ-145s, having failed to secure backing from its shareholders to continue operations.
In a press release, flybmi attributes its problems to higher fuel costs and costs for carbon dioxide compensation schemes after the EU excluded UK airlines from its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
But the most important factor is uncertainty over the UK’s position after March 29, the date the country is set to leave the European Union.
“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”. The press release continues: “We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option open to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable.”
This indicates that flybmi was unable to secure itself an EU AOC that would have allowed it to fly from the UK to its EU destinations, which included Esjberg in Denmark, Frankfurt and Hamburg, Munich, Neurenberg, Rostock and Saarbrucken in Germany, Jonkoping and Karlstad and Norrkoping in Sweden, Stavanger in Norway, Lublin in Poland, Milan Bergamo in Italy and Paris in France. It had crew bases in the UK, Germany, Belgium and Sweden, employing 376 staff.
The airline says it is unable to repay tickets to passengers who booked flights. Over the weekend many were stranded as the airline collapsed.
flybmi also operated flights on behalf of Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Air France, Air Dolomiti and Loganair, to which it was a sister airline under Airline Investments Limited (AIL).
The airline was founded in 1987 as Business Air and purchased in 1998 by British Midland, Lufthansa and SAS, becoming the regional subsidiary and feeder as BMI Regional. Later it was fully purchased by Lufthansa, who sold it on to International Airlines Group (IAG) in 2012. AIL bought the airline in 2015. British Midland Regional got its last name flybmi in December 2017, keeping the recognizable blue livery from its original parrent company.
On February 17, flybmi’s Scottish partner Loganair announced that from February 18 it will take over five routes from the bankrupt airline, three from Aberdeen and two from Newcastle.
The demise of flybmi confirms the difficult situation of UK regional airlines, with Flybe another airline fighting for survival. Its take-over by Connect Airways that includes Stobart, Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus still needs te be confirmed.
The blue and white tailfin of the flybmi fleet is set to disappear. (flybmi)