Scheduled flights cancelled after embattled airline Flybe ceases trading - P.A.MEDIA
BY Benjamin Cooper, PA
Regional carrier Flybe has ceased trading and all scheduled flights have been cancelled.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) made the announcement the company had gone into administration for the second time in three years, asking passengers booked on Flybe flights not to travel to airports.
It urged ticket-holders to instead check its website for the latest information.
CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: “It is always sad to see an airline enter administration and we know that Flybe’s decision to stop trading will be distressing for all of its employees and customers.
“We urge passengers planning to fly with this airline not to go to the airport as all Flybe flights are cancelled.”
The airline tweeted: “We are sad to announce that Flybe has been placed into administration.
“David Pike and Mike Pink of Interpath have been appointed administrators. Flybe has now ceased trading. All Flybe flights from and to the UK are cancelled and will not be rescheduled.”
Flybe was pushed into administration in March 2020 with the loss of 2,400 jobs as the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed large parts of the travel market, but returned to the skies in April.
Its plan was to operate up to 530 flights per week across 23 routes, serving airports such as Belfast City, Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Heathrow and Leeds Bradford, and it flew the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.
Its business and assets were purchased in April 2021 by Thyme Opco, which is linked to US hedge fund Cyrus Capital, and Thyme Opco was renamed Flybe Limited and based at Birmingham Airport.
The Government said its priority was to support anyone trying to get home and those who have lost their jobs.
“This remains a challenging environment for airlines, both old and new, as they recover from the pandemic, and we understand the impact this will have on Flybe’s passengers and staff.
“Our immediate priority is to support people travelling home and employees who have lost their jobs,” a spokesperson said.
“The Civil Aviation Authority is providing advice to passengers to help them make their journeys as smoothly and affordably as possible.
“The majority of destinations served by Flybe are within the UK with alternative transport arrangements available.
“We recognise that this is an uncertain time for affected employees and their families.
“Jobcentre Plus, through its rapid response service, stands ready to support any employee affected.”
Freddie McBride, 61, from Balham, south London, branded Flybe “outrageous” after his flight from Heathrow to Belfast on Saturday morning was cancelled with just three hours’ notice, forcing he and his wife to rebook with Aer Lingus.
He told the PA news agency: “I got up at the crack of dawn, packed and we couldn’t check in online last night so I thought we’d do it this morning.
“I left my wife to do it while I got the train. 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.
“I had to phone my wife to tell her and she booked from home while I was running about to terminal three and five to British Airways because I thought we could fly with them.”
He added: “When I get on the plane I’ll be relieved. They allowed us to book about a day or two ago. It’s not good, it’s not good.”
Labour called the news “devastating” as it urged the Government to act.
“Protection for passengers is simply not strong enough – and ministers have sat on their hands for years and failed to introduce long-promised airline insolvency laws,” shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said.
“They must act, and urgently strengthen protections for passengers, employees and those affected,” she added.
Matthew Hall, chief executive of Belfast City Airport, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Flybe employees and passengers affected by this disappointing and unexpected news.
“Passengers booked on Flybe flights should not travel to the airport and should seek further advice from the Civil Aviation Authority.”
Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “The Government has not learned the lessons from the original collapse of Flybe.
“It has failed to introduce the Airline Insolvency Bill, which would have allowed Flybe to continue to operate, avoided passengers being stranded and staff losing their jobs in the middle of the night.
“In recent years the UK has seen the collapse of Monarch, Thomas Cook and Flybe twice, how many more airlines will be allowed to plunge into administration before the Government introduces the measures needed to protect the UK’s aviation industry and its passengers?”
Martin Chalk, general secretary of the pilots union Balpa, said: “Many of the staff of Flybe will have recently suffered the harrowing effects of one bankruptcy, and now they are being subjected to yet another.
“Balpa will not only support its members through this difficult time, but will seek to work with the DfT to improve the regulatory framework to avoid such sudden and precipitous events in the future.”
Flybe: Passenger frustration after airline cancels all flights - BBC
By Rebecca McGirr
BBC News NI
Flybe passengers are facing chaos and frustration after the airline went into administration.
Flybe had only restarted operations last April after collapsing in 2020, and now passengers have been left forking out for alternative travel.
Flybe's administrator confirmed 277 of its 321 staff are being made redundant.
Dozens of Flybe staff work at Belfast City Airport. The airport's chief executive said the news was disappointing and unexpected.
Most of the employees have been made redundant, with 45 retained to assist the administrators.
News of the collapse came in the early hours of Saturday morning - the first flight out of Belfast City Airport was for Newcastle and it was due to leave at 07:00 GMT.
Natalie Punshon, from Darlington in England, had been visiting Belfast after her mother died a few weeks ago.
"The last couple of days has just been sorting myself out, going round and just taking a bit of time to gather myself a bit," she told BBC NI.
Confusion and stress
Ms Punshon had been due to fly back to Newcastle on Sunday but woke up to two emails from Flybe on Saturday morning.
She said one email stated that Flybe had gone into administration and the flight was cancelled, the second requested that she check in for her flight.
"I was a bit confused, went online checked the news websites, checked Flybe and saw that, yes, it actually had been cancelled," she told BBC News NI.
Ms Punshon booked a flight for Sunday with another airline for an additional cost of £100.
Her mother's funeral is next week.
"I know I am lucky I have the flight booked back but at the back of my mind it is kind of: 'What if I hadn't been able to get a flight back?'" she said.
Chris Donnelly was scheduled to fly from Belfast City to Heathrow at 07:25.
At 03:07 he received an email from Flybe which said the company had gone into administration and his flight had been cancelled - it also advised passengers not to travel to the airport.
Mr Donnelly, a school principal and political commentator, was on his way to the airport when he saw the email.
He was able to book an alternative flight from Belfast to Gatwick, but doing so at short notice was inconvenient.
Mr Donnelly added he had booked train tickets from Heathrow into central London costing £50, which were of no use to him now.
Lucy Buller, 23, was due to start her journey to Australia on Saturday afternoon, beginning with a flight from Belfast City to Amsterdam.
The Holywood woman, who is going to Melbourne to work, said her mum heard about Flybe on the radio and it had all been very stressful.
She has now booked an alternative but more expensive flight from Dublin on Saturday evening.
This version of Flybe only began operating in April last year, it had been bought out of administration after collapsing under previous owners at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Then it was a potentially existential event for the City Airport.
Flybe was its biggest operator and with pandemic restrictions taking a grip it was unclear when or if Flybe would be replaced.
This time is different. IAG, with its Aer Lingus and BA brands, is now the main customer of the airport.
And on eight of Flybe's 10 routes the airport already offers an alternative carrier.
However there must now be a question whether an independent UK regional airline in the Flybe mould is now viable.
If not it could mean less competition and ultimately higher prices for customers.
David Rea, from Lisburn, booked flights two days ago for himself and 10 friends to attend a stag do in Leeds at the end of April.
The 28-year-old area sales manager spent £1,200 on the flights from Belfast City to Leeds Bradford and is unsure how long it will take to get his money back.
"I found out this morning from a WhatsApp message - one of my friends asked if our flights were with Flybe and then I saw the news," he said.
"I still haven't had any contact from Flybe.
"I phoned my bank to ask if I could cancel the payment and they said no, but it is still pending so it may come back into my account - otherwise I have to speak to the disputes team."
They have already booked a hotel in Leeds, so they are now looking at their flight options.
The Independent's travel correspondent Simon Calder said it should be straightforward for customers to get their money back from their card issuer or travel agent.
He also told BBC Radio Ulster's On Your Behalf show that help might be at hand for those trying to find alternative and usually more expensive flights.
"I fully expect other airlines to come in with so-called rescue fares," he said.
"They will be offering a very good deal for people who were on Flybe to be able to continue their journeys."
On the wider implications, Mr Calder said since Flybe's previous collapse, other airlines had moved in and picked up the profitable routes from Belfast.
While there was no room for Flybe, he added, Northern Ireland probably had "just about the connectivity it needed and deserved".
Flybe operated 10 routes from Belfast City including services to Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Amsterdam.
When Flybe collapsed in 2020, it was responsible for about 80% of Belfast City's flights. More recently Flybe made up about 14% of flights at the airport.
'Surprise to everyone'
Matthew Hall, chief executive of Belfast City Airport, said their thoughts were with Flybe employees and passengers affected by the "disappointing and unexpected" news.
"Passengers booked on Flybe flights should not travel to the airport and should seek further advice from the Civil Aviation Authority," he said.
"Flybe operated 10 flights to and from Belfast City, eight of which are currently served by other carriers from our airport."
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said the collapse of Flybe had come as a shock to the airport's management.
"I understand that news of Flybe's announcement came as much as a surprise to them as it did to the pilots, cabin crew and members of the travelling public," he said.
"Already the airport are engaged in discussions about ensuring the routes continue through other airlines."
For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the Civil Aviation Authority's website.
The Consumer Council said it was important passengers knew their rights with regards to compensation and assistance, and pointed people to their website.
China Resumes Visa Issuance for Japan, Ending Covid Retaliation - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- China will resume issuing visas to Japanese nationals from Sunday, ending some of the retaliatory measures it took against Covid-related curbs on Chinese travelers.
The Chinese embassy in Japan issued a statement on its official WeChat account announcing the removal of the visa restrictions for Japanese travelers, without giving a reason.
China announced on Jan. 10 that it had suspended issuing some visas for South Korea and Japan in Beijing’s first retaliation against Covid-related curbs on Chinese travelers to those countries.
There was no update of China’s suspension of visas for South Korea. The Chinese embassy to South Korea said in a Jan. 10 statement that the a resumption depended on South Korea’s removal of its “discriminative inbound restrictive measures” targeting China.
Beijing wound back its measures despite no adjustment by Japan on its Covid rules over inbound travelers from China. Japanese firms have been taking their money out of China, and the government in Tokyo has been encouraging companies to reduce their Chinese dependence.
READ: China Hits Back at South Korea, Japan in Covid Retaliation (1)
--With assistance from James Mayger.
(Adds details on shrinking Japanese investment in China in last paragraph.)
Ryanair warns of rise in ticket prices as it reports record profits - YAHOO FINANCE
Ryanair (RYA.IR) has forecast higher airfare costs for passengers, after the Dublin-based firm reported a net profit of £185m ($229m/€210.6m) due to increased bookings over the Christmas and New Year period.
The company's chief financial officer Neil Sorahan said Ryanair will "deliver record profits in the current financial year and we would expect to continue to grow profitably into next year and beyond".
However, "based on current booking profiles, we think that fares will rise into Easter and the summer", he said.
In Monday's third quarter results, the largest European low-cost carrier expressed confidence for the future and raised its annual profit outlook to a range of £1.16m to £1.25m as sales rose 57% to £2.03bn in the fourth quarter of last year.
Profits for the period reached £185m, compared to a £84m loss the previous year.
Strong pent-up travel demand over the October, mid-term and peak Christmas and New Year holiday season drove profits at the aviation firm.
Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary predicted a surge in travel demand in Europe due to American and Asian tourists over Easter and summer 2023.
The low-cost airline reported record profits despite the economic downturn and early bookings indicate a "strong" summer ahead, according to O'Leary.
Ryanair added that they predict no adverse impact from COVID or the war in Ukraine and said that a strong US dollar and the lifting of border restrictions will entice long-haul travelers to book European trips.
Southwest, American Airlines Cancel Flights Due to Icy Texas Winter Storm - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. have canceled more than 1,500 flights early this week as a winter storm brings freezing temperatures, sleet and possible ice accumulation to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Southwest, which accounts for nearly all the flights at Dallas Love Field, grounded 483 Monday and pre-canceled 309 Tuesday, according to data tracker FlightAware.com. American, the largest airline at nearby Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, canceled 314 Monday and 450 Tuesday because of the storm, including some flights by its regional partners, the carrier said.
Parts of north and central Texas are under a winter storm warning until noon Wednesday, with icing on bridges and roads causing dangerous travel conditions, the National Weather Service said. Flights also were canceled by weather in Denver, where Southwest has a large operation.
The Dallas-based airline doesn’t expect a repeat of an operational meltdown in late December, a spokesman said. That began when a widespread winter storm triggered so many cancellations that it overwhelmed Southwest’s crew scheduling system.
Both Southwest and American have issued waivers allowing customers to rebook flights without triggering fees.
About 31% of flights were canceled Monday at Love Field, close to 20% at DFW and about 10% in Denver, according to FlightAware.
We have old Naira notes, what do we do with them – Nigerians in Diaspora - PREMIUM TIMES
Responding to Mr Udoh, Abike Dabira-Erewa, chairperson of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) asked, “do Nigerians in diaspora keep or spend Naira notes abroad? Am I missing something?”
Nigerians in the Diaspora have expressed concern about what to do with old naira notes in their possession.
Colin Udoh, a Nigerian who according to his Twitter profile lives in the US and is a former Super Eagles press officer, asked, “I have some old naira notes with me. So far, I haven’t seen or heard of any plans by central bank for folks in diaspora with old naira notes to exchange theirs. Am I missing something?”
Responding to Mr Udoh, Abike Dabira-Erewa, chairperson of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) asked, “do Nigerians in diaspora keep or spend Naira notes abroad? Am I missing something?”
In response, Mr Udoh explained that he always has naira notes for whenever he returns to Nigeria.
“I always carry some naira with me in case I need to pay for stuff. And on arrival, it’s a backup to pay for things like trolley, car rental, assistance, hotels, etc in case ATM fails,” Mr Udoh wrote.
Corroborating Mr Udoh, Osariemen, another user whose profile suggests he lives in the US, said it is an unspoken rule to keep naira notes for anyone who plans to return to Nigeria.
“I have Naira note here, trust me, you do not want to arrive Nigeria without it. Those airport people will milk you. It is an unspoken rule, keep Naira notes if you intend travelling back to Nigeria,” she said.
Shola Olushola added that “most Nigerians keep Naira with us so that during a visit home, there will be some cash to spend for one or 2 days before visiting BDC. So, it is not out of place if anyone asks for the central bank’s plan towards those in the diaspora.”
Also, Farooq Kperogi, a professor of journalism at Kennesaw State University in the US, said he takes back naira notes when he travels to Nigeria “so that when we have occasion to visit again we can have naira to spend at the airport for trolleys and to pay for taxis to our hotels or houses. I’m now resigned to the fact that the naira I have with me here is useless.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2023 unveiled new notes of the three highest denominations of the Nigerian currency: N200, N500 and N1,000.
The banking regulator initially set 31 January as the deadline for the use of the old notes but extended the deadline to 10 February after public outcry.
Onofiok Kings, an Abuja-based financial expert, said the rules must be implemented across the board.
“Typically, we do not expect Nigerians to keep so much Naira abroad as they should have changed it to the universal currency which is the United States dollar,” he said.
However, since the deadline has been shifted, NIDCOM should be called upon to either negotiate or liaise with the central bank to give a timeline and or a deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to enable them to change their Naira to either the newly designed notes or any currency of their choosing.
“I believe that it is an issue worth considering. It is possible that a considerable amount of money are with such folks” Tope Fasua, an economist, said about the concerns raised by the diasporans. He advised that a policy statement may be made for such people after the new deadline to approach their banks with such old currencies when they are in the country.
“It is a fact that such policies should have some elements of surprise. It is also a fact that in a country like Nigeria, the policy targets criminals – kidnappers, narcotics dealers, corrupt politicians and civil servants, money launderers and so on,” Mr Fasua said.