Blow for City of Derry Airport as Flybmi goes into administration and cancels all flights
- The regional airline has blamed Brexit for its demise
- MP in touch with Transport Secretary regarding the future of the route
Airline Flybmi, which operates flights from the City of Derry Airport to London Stansted, has announced it has gone into administration.
British Midland Regional Limited, which is based in the East Midlands, has ceased operations and has cancelled all Flybmi flights.
The airline operates 17 regional jet aircrafts on routes to 25 European cities.
Recently the City of Derry Airport described the Flybmi London route as "crucial" and a "key element to the sustainability" of the airport.
The news comes just days after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that the Department for the Economy and the UK Government would subsidise the 13 weekly rotations of the Londonderry to London route until May 2021.
City of Derry Airport chairman Albert Harrison had said on Thursday: "Maintaining frequent and conveniently scheduled air services to London is vitally important for the development of the north-west city region and for the development of our regional economy and the social development of our region."
On Thursday, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley said the funding was "great news" for business in Londonderry.
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Reacting to the collapse of the airline, Sinn Féin councillor Sandra Duffy said: “News that flybmi has entered administration is a huge concern, particularly for the economy in the North West.”
“The loss of the airline does not mean the loss of the service and I have contacted the Chief Executive of Derry City & Strabane District Council to ensure every effort is made to find an alternative carrier as soon as possible so there is minimal disruption to this service."
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said he spoke with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Saturday evening.
The Transport Secretary indicated that he is hopeful that a new operator will agree to take on the route. There needs to be as seamless a transition as possible from Flybmi to the new operator in order that the travelling public suffer as little as possible. Gregory Campbell MP
A spokesperson for Flybmi said: "It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement today. The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU's recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
"These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit. Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and lack of confidence around bmi's ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe.
"Additionally, our situation mirrors wider difficulties in the regional airline industry which have been well documented."
Very disappointing news that @flybmi have gone into receivership - Council would like to reassure the public that its officers & reps from @CoDerryAirport are in emergency talks tonight with UK Dept for Transport to urgently seek a replacement airline pic.twitter.com/zIohtlo4HQ— Derry Strabane Cncl (@dcsdcouncil) February 16, 2019
The spokesperson said it had become impossible for the airline's shareholders to continue putting funding into the business, despite investment totalling more than £40m in the last six years.
"We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable," the spokesman added.
Customers who have booked Flybmi flights via a travel agent are recommended to contact their agent for details of options available to them. Customers who have travel insurance should contact their travel insurance provider to find out if they are eligible to claim for cancelled flights.
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