Billy still fondly remembers the time when he took a call from Richard in March 2020, who said he was waiting for his Flybe flight home from a training session.
"You'll be waiting a while. They've just gone into Administration," Bill said, maybe a little too gleefully.
Luckily Rich returned before the weekend, as otherwise he would have suffered an identical fate. Last Saturday British regional airline Flybe ceased trading for the second time in three years, with all flights cancelled and 276 workers made redundant. The airline is in the tender loving hands of David Pike and Mike Pink of Interpath, who have been appointed joint Administrators of the airline.
Flybe had only been back in operation for a year (mainly stacking above Manchester), gamely giving it a second go with 21 routes to 17 destinations. While initially planned to resurrect with a relaunch in 2021, the new Flybe finally commenced flight services in April last year, cunningly disguising its original name 'Flybe' as 'Flybe Limited' (they rejected Neil's suggestion of 'BeHAVE'). Very few passengers made the connection as they tumbled aboard one of a fleet of eight leased Q400 turboprop aircraft.
Mike Pink appeared to be more upbeat than the NTI newsroom suspects he truly feels when he announced that scaled-back elements of Flybe's operating platform would be preserved for a short period while there was a possibility of a rescue transaction. He encouraged any interested party to make contact urgently. So, if you want to extricate your cyber-savings, exchanging them for 21 routes to 17 destinations Mike and Dave are your men. There are 45 members of the Flybe team who must be desperately be hoping someone comes in with a plan, as they have been retained on an interim basis.
Flybe's potential demise flies against the recent trend in the aircraft industry, where numbers have been rising and hopes soar on the back of a recovery. It can be justly argued that Flybe's woes extend back way before the pandemic laid a straw on the back of a Q400, with indifferent management and a dodgy business plan, but delayed aircraft deliveries and a competitive environment has seen them off this time. Maybe for good?