After years of financial difficulties, a joint-buyout by a consortium of three companies and a last-ditch attempt to obtain emergency funding from the UK government, the airline has ceased trading. Its financial woes were exasperated by a slowdown in bookings due to the coronavirus outbreak, it has been reported.
Passengers booked on Flybe flights are being urged not to go the Airport.
The airline, set up in 1979, was once known as Jersey European Airways and was owned by Blackburn-born steel worker turned Jersey-based steel magnate, Jack Walker.
It became British European and eventually Flybe – Fly British European – in 2002.
However, despite the changes, up to the time of its demise, all of its pilots still used the ‘Jersey’ call sign while speaking with air traffic control. It is understood that the final-ever scheduled Flybe flight to leave the Island was the BE511 service to Birmingham.
At the time of collapse, the airline ran routes to Birmingham, Southampton, Exeter, Guernsey, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Manchester, Geneva and Inverness. It is unclear what will now happen with those routes.
Blue Islands, a separately-owned Guernsey-based company, which had a franchise agreement in place, allowing it to use Flybe’s branding and website, continues to operate. The business is now the sole carrier on the Guernsey, East Midlands, Newquay, Bristol, Zurich, Southampton and London City routes.
In a statement, the airline urged Islanders booked on Blue Islands services to turn up to their flights on time, as normal.
As it previously relied on the Flybe booking system, anyone wishing to book flights must now turn up to the Airport in person until their old booking platform has been reinstated. A £50 one-way flat-fare structure is now in place across their route network.
Carl Walker, chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council, has raised serious concerns about Flybe’s collapse.
In a post on Twitter, he said: ‘A vital lifeline for the Channel Islands looks set to be lost. There are going to be huge implications for consumers, especially those travelling for healthcare reasons. This could be nothing short of disastrous for the islands.’
Meanwhile, Kristina Le Feuvre, owner of Amaizin! Adventure Park in St Peter, said that she was ‘frantically’ trying to rebook 30 visiting leisure park owners onto alternative flights.
‘At Somerville Hotel with 30 UK park owners, all due to fly home tomorrow,’ she said.
‘No one currently talking, all frantically trying to book flights with BA’s crashed server!’
What are your rights?
Flights booked directly with the airline and not as part of a package are not protected by ATOL – the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme – and customers will not be able to apply to obtain a refund.
However, any customers in this situation who booked with a credit card and not a debit card may be in luck. If the flights within a booking were worth more than £100, then the credit card should reimburse the cardholder under section 75 of the UK’s Consumer Credit Act.
If the booking was worth less than £100, but booked with a credit card, then the cardholder may be able to claim money back through the chargeback scheme.
For package holidays booked under an ATOL provider, customers should be protected. See caa.co.uk/atol-protection for full details.