Flybe ceased trading as of 2:30 on 5 March 2020. An estimated 15,000 passengers were due to fly on the 5 and the Government's immediate priority has been to ensure those customers and those with future booked flights are kept informed of alternative travel options.
Travellers are asked to not turn up at the airport, call ahead, seek advice from your travel agent and if you had booked directly, liaise with your insurer about alternative arrangements, cancellations fees and other forms of support.
The Government also has a priority to help those employees who have lost their jobs, be it pilots and air host staff to baggage handlers and security to access Jobcentre support as soon as possible. A fast track scheme has been set up so anybody fearful about their situation is advised to make contact as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on rapid support, even if you are actively seeking work elsewhere in the industry.
The Civil Aviation Authority are encouraging other airlines to offer reduced fares and the Secretary of State has written to rail and coach operators who can provide support for travel across the United Kingdom. For those who are abroad, there is sufficient capacity on other commercial airlines to return to the United Kingdom and the Civil Aviation Authority is encouraging airlines to offer rescue fares.
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The Government has liaised with train operators in the United Kingdom and all Flybe staff and customers will be offered free alternative ways home this week. To redeem your joinery, staff need to present their ID and passengers need to present their flight confirmation details. There are also a few airline operators who provide short flights within the UK, offering rescue fares for passengers, so again, call ahead if possible.
The Department for Transport is working with the airline industry to identify opportunities to fill routes which are vital for local communities (eg, to the islands within the UK) levelling up connectivity across our regions and nations remains a top priority for Government. There is an ongoing review of regional connectivity to ensure the UK has is less reliant on single modes of transport wherever possible.
The Treasury is reviewing Air Passenger Duty to ensure that regional connectivity is supported while meeting the UK's climate change commitments to meet net zero by 2050.
Looking beyond the issues around the sudden international cancellations due to the Coronavirus scare, since January the Government has explored multiple options with Flybe to find a solution to their money difficulties, directors sadly decided it was not viable to keep Flybe operating. Unfortunately in a competitive market, companies do fail and it is not the role of the Government to prop them up.
The Secretary of State for Transport has written to Airport Coordination Limited the independent slot coordinator to discuss slot alleviations relating to coronavirus. The Minister for Aviation will also be chairing a roundtable with members of the aviation industry to discuss the issues presented by the virus.
Globally aviation has faced challenges due to changing consumer habits and more recently the coronavirus. The Government is well prepared for this and as the wider economic picture becomes clearer.
The Chancellor is ready to announce further support where it is needed.