Update 18:45 GMT: Earlier today, Aviation Analyst revealed British regional airline ‘Flybmi’ was preparing for an immediate collapse. Flybmi has confirmed the exclusive and has become the latest victim of Europe’s fiercely competitive air travel market, announcing the end of all operations. The collapse of Flybmi will affect hundreds of employees across the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.
Aviation Analyst can exclusively reveal that the immediate future of British regional airline Flybmi is at risk, with the airline facing imminent collapse. Flybmi is headquartered at East Midlands Airport in the UK, with additional operating bases across Britain and continental Europe, including Brussels and Munich.
Its scheduled network includes Oslo, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and London Stansted.
Amid ongoing financial difficulty, Flybmi’s sole owner, Airline Investments Limited has initiated preparations for a potential collapse as soon as tomorrow — if extra funding is not secured over the coming hours. The carrier currently operates a fleet of four Embraer ERJ-135 and 15 ERJ-145 jets.
This afternoon’s most recent ex-UK departure was cancelled between Bristol and Munich, and Flybmi airline jets based in Brussels positioned back to Bristol on Friday night, and Saturday morning.
In addition, two aircraft based in Munich, and one based in Karlstad have positioned to Norwich — home to an aircraft storage facility. Another two Embraer jets based in Munich will position to the UK this afternoon.
Flybmi crew who were rostered on weekend ‘night-stops’ have been flown back to the UK, and while crew wait to hear the future of the airline, their rostered flights have been replaced by ‘home standby’.
Flybmi was previously part of iconic UK airline brand British Midland International (BMI). In November 2009 Lufthansa became the sole shareholder of British Midland Airlines Ltd via a British holding company. The German flag carrier airline carried out extensive restructuring in an attempt to bring Flybmi to profitability—but this was never achieved. In 2012, the carrier was sold to Sector Aviation Holdings and has operated independently since October 2012.
The airline is now part of a wider airline holding company called Airline Investments Limited (AIL) Group is made up of two British airline brands: Flybmi and Loganair. The two owner-entrepreneurs – Stephen and Peter Bond – have a long history in aviation, having previously owned Bond Aviation in the UK, and being the original investors of ‘Alliance Airlines’ in Australia.
The airline has several partnerships with international carriers. Flybmi has codeshare agreements with Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Air Dolomiti, Loganair and Air France.
In addition to its scheduled operations, Flybmi operates a number of charter shuttle services, including on behalf of Airbus, using its Embraer 145 aircraft. The Airbus shuttle flights carry employees between Airbus manufacturing sites at Broughton, Bristol and Toulouse. Earlier this month, Airbus lost its Toulouse-Hamburg Finkenwerder employee shuttle-service airline operator ‘Germania’ following Germania’s immediate collapse. As a result, Airbus is currently having to wet-lease aircraft from leasing-airline specialist Titan Airways. In the meantime, the European planemaker is looking for a new shuttle operator.
Now just two weeks since Germania’s collapse, Airbus looks set to lose its UK-France shuttle airline operator too.
As of Saturday afternoon, Flybmi is continuing to sell tickets.
Two weeks ago, flybmi said it will announce a new flight between Derry and Manchester ‘in the next few weeks’. The carrier also said it may extend a UK-government subsidised daily Flybmi flight between Derry and London Stansted, but highlighted that a decision would only be made ‘after mid-February.’
Flybmi is a favourite of business travellers due to the carrier’s convenient departure times, and the ability to fly to secondary cities to cater for a business travel demand that would otherwise be left unserved.
Just four months ago, the carrier signed a new codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines. The partnership gave passengers the ability to book via flybmi.com and travel from Manchester, London Heathrow and Dublin on to Turkish Airlines flights.
Overcapacity in the European aviation sector has resulted in the demise of airline operators such as Monarch Airlines, who were present in both the low-cost airline market and the leisure airline market — while failing to be a market leader in either. The airline faced fierce competition from both sides and collapsed amid its flawed strategy.
Furthermore, both the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and a year-long higher oil price in 2018 have wiped off profits (or attempts to become profitable) at even the most financially stable airline carriers. Flybmi’s CEO last year revealed that the carrier was considering a new EU subsidiary to secure operations after the Brexit, given the complexities a ‘no-deal’ exit could present to British-registered airlines flying EU to EU state, post-Brexit.
Winter is also a difficult time for European airlines, given the lower demand but continuing high costs.
A sharp increase in Air Traffic Control strikes across Europe also wreaked havoc on airlines in 2018, and it was categorically one of the worst years in history for Air Traffic Control strikes across the continent, but predominantly in France.
Flybmi plays an important role in connecting travellers between the UK and cities on the continent but faces incredibly fierce competition from low-cost airline giants, which has left the airline vulnerable.
The airline faces collapse as soon as tonight — unless the owners are able to secure last-minute funding.
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