Struggling UK airline Flybe has ceased operations Thursday and gone into administration.
The regional airline, which was already reeling under financial issues, was delivered the final blow by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that has hurt the demand for air travel.
Exeter-based Flybe said in a statement that it entered administration on Thursday. The airline added that all its flights have been grounded and its UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect.
The airline advised customers to not travel to the airport unless they have arranged an alternative flight with another airline.
Flybe’s chief executive Mark Anderson reportedly said in a letter to the airline’s staff that despite every effort, the airline failed to find a feasible solution that would enable it to keep trading.
The airline’s fall puts thousands of jobs at risk.
Flybe was launched in 1979. Until its sale to the Connect Airways consortium last year, Flybe was the largest independent regional airline in Europe. The airline was acquired by the British consortium that included Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Aviation and Cyrus Capital Partners.
But continuing financial woes led the consortium to appeal to the UK government for additional support earlier this year. While the government agreed to help the airline by granting a 100 million pounds rescue loan, Flybe’s competitors were against the move.
IAG, the owner of British Airways, filed a complaint with the European Union, alleging that Flybe’s rescue violated state aid rules.
Flybe had expressed concerns over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on bookings, raising doubts on whether the government loan would be granted.
On Thursday, the International Air Transport Association or IATA updated its analysis of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 public health emergency on the global air transport industry. The agency said it sees 2020 global revenue losses for the passenger business of between $63 billion and $113 billion.
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