LONDON: The collapse of the British airline Flybe has been described as “disappointing and unexpected” by the chief executive of Belfast City Airport.
The regional carrier operated 10 flights to and from Belfast, and passengers who have booked have been advised not to travel to the airport.
A statement on the airline’s website said it had “ceased trading” and added that it would not be able to help passengers arrange alternative flights.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it would provide advice and information to those affected.
Administrators have taken over the company, which only relaunched in April last year.
When Flybe previously collapsed in 2020, it was responsible for around 80% of Belfast City Airport’s flights. More recently Flybe made up about 14% of flights at the airport.
Matthew Hall, chief executive of Belfast City Airport said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Flybe employees and passengers affected by this disappointing and unexpected news.
“Passengers booked on Flybe flights should not travel to the airport and should seek further advice from the CAA.
“Flybe operated 10 flights to and from Belfast City, eight of which are currently served by other carriers from our airport.
“Alternative travel to Birmingham; Glasgow; Leeds-Bradford; London Heathrow, Amsterdam; Edinburgh; Manchester; and Southampton can be arranged through Aer Lingus, KLM, British Airways and Loganair which operates flights to Teesside International from Belfast City Airport.”
East Belfast member of parliament Gavin Robinson said the collapse of Flybe had come as a shock to management of Belfast City Airport.
He told the PA news agency: “I have spoken with representatives of Belfast City Airport this morning.
“I understand that news of Flybe’s announcement came as much as a surprise to them as it did to the pilots, cabin crew and members of the travelling public.
“Already the airport is engaged in discussions about ensuring the routes continue through other airlines.
“Our thoughts today must remain with all of those affected.”
Peter McReynolds, Alliance Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for east Belfast, tweeted: “Disappointed to see Flybe has ceased trading and all flights from Belfast City Airport have been cancelled with immediate effect.
“Flybe customers who still need to travel, will need to make their own alternative travel arrangements via other airlines, rail or coach operators.”
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) jobs and economy spokesperson Sinead McLaughlin said she believes the future of the airport is secure despite the blow.
She said: “When Flybe previously entered administration, there were concerns expressed around the long-term viability of Belfast City Airport and I welcome that thanks to steps taken since that period that is no longer the case and the airport’s future is secure.
“I will be reaching out to the airport and the Flybe staff affected on behalf of the SDLP and we will do our best to offer help and advice to customers who had booked flights through the airline.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen said there had to be an examination around barriers to connectivity in Northern Ireland.
He said: “Passengers and employees will rightly be angry at the announcement from Flybe that the airline is ceasing to trade with immediate effect.
“An executive, when restored, must explore the wider issue of connectivity and barriers that exist, especially around air passenger duty.” — dpa