Flybe: 'Devastating blow' for Scots travellers

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Media caption,
Flybe flights are cancelled at Glasgow airport

Thousands of Scottish travellers have been hit by the collapse of UK airline Flybe.

The airline operates flights to UK destinations from all of Scotland's large airports with Aberdeen Airport saying five routes were affected there.

Exeter-based Flybe went into administration after a bid for fresh financial support failed.

Scottish airline Loganair has since announced plans to take on 16 routes operated by the collapsed carrier.

The owner of Aberdeen and Glasgow airports said it was a "devastating blow" for employees and travellers.

And Highlands and Islands airports operator Hial said its "thoughts are with Flybe employees and customers at this time".

The first signs of a problem came on Wednesday evening when passengers who had boarded a flight in Glasgow bound for Birmingham had to disembark after "a fuel issue" meant the flight was cancelled.

Image source, Paul Winter
Image caption,
Paul Winter says the airline had been dubbed "Fly Maybe"

Paul Winter, who runs a vehicle rental business in Glasgow but lives in Oxfordshire and had been due to take that flight, said the airline had improved over the past six months but was still dubbed "Fly Maybe" by regular customers.

Soon after, it was confirmed that the airline had gone into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.

A spokesman for AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: "The loss of Flybe is a devastating blow for the airline's employees and the tens of thousands of passengers who relied on its routes. It unfortunately brings into stark focus the fragility of the UK's domestic connectivity."

The airports' owner said it was already speaking to other airlines about "backfilling" the routes operated by Flybe.

It said the advice to passengers who were scheduled to travel with Flybe was not to travel to the airport.

BBC Scotland's David Allison, at Glasgow airport, said there was no check-in area for Flybe passengers. Instead, they were greeted by people working on behalf of the administrators.

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Paige Shepherd, from Inverness, told BBC Scotland she was stuck in Belfast with friends after Flybe's collapse.

They heard from the BBC on Wednesday night that Flybe was in administration but no-one at the airport could give any information.

Ms Shepherd said the group had now booked Easyjet flights to Glasgow. "But our problem is getting from Glasgow to Inverness," she said. "That is proving quite expensive."

She said she was very aware people had lost their jobs and she was just "caught in the storm".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Swimmer Hannah Miley was on the last Flybe flight back to Aberdeen

Olympic Swimmer Hannah Miley was on the last Flybe flight to land in the UK, at Aberdeen.

"We were delayed getting on the plane to start with and then once we were on the plane the gentleman sat in front of me found out from Twitter what was happening with the company," she told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

She said the plane was held for almost three hours before the flight took off.

Ms Miley said the loss of the route was significant as the plane from Aberdeen was the best way to get down to Manchester for competitions in places such as Sheffield.

Image caption,
One of the Flybe aircraft grounded at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday

Simon Calder, travel journalist for the Independent newspaper, told BBC Scotland that Flybe's business model of short flights connecting UK regional airports was not working.

He said some routes might eventually be taken over by other airlines.

Easyjet has already announced plans to fly from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Birmingham.

"That was in competition to Flybe but it will not longer have a competitor," he said.

He said a lot of people used the link from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Manchester in order to connect with long-haul flights.

"I can't see that route being replaced. It is just too short," he added.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said it was "very disappointing" that Flybe had gone out of business.

He said: "My officials have spoken with AGS Airports, Edinburgh Airport and Highlands and Islands Airports this morning to discuss how we can best help ensure connectivity is maintained and enhanced.

"We have also spoken with Loganair, who are preparing to take up a number of Flybe's former routes to help maintain connectivity."