Flybe 'set to go into administration overnight and cease operations immediately'

Flybe almost went bust in January.

It didn't because the Government said it was willing to considering lending the airline £100 million and to reduce the amount of tax it pays in the form of Air Passenger Duty

But the Government has decided it is no longer willing to put taxpayer money on the line.

Flybe's bookings this month are down 50 per cent on last year. Credit: Peter Smith/Twitter

That's partly because there's a new Chancellor at the Treasury but principally because Flybe has seen tickets sales plunge since the coronavirus outbreak spread to Europe.

Flybe operates many UK domestic flights but it also flies to France, Germany and to Italy which is struggling to contain the virus.

Flybe's bookings this month are down 50% on last year.

The airline was already loss-making.

Flybe will wait for the last scheduled flight to land on Wednesday before formally putting the business into administration overnight

It's expected to cease operations with immediate effect.

The collapse of the airline is clearly distressing for its 2,500 staff but it's also distressing for many of the UK’s regional airports - 95% of every flight that takes off and lands at Southampton airport is operated by Flybe.

Belfast, Exeter, Jersey, Cardiff, Guernsey, Aberdeen and Birmingham also rely on the airline.

My colleague Peter Smith was due to travel with Flybe from Glasgow to Birmingham on Wednesday night, but his flight was cancelled and the aircraft impounded.

The insolvency process is already underway.

The government could subsidise routes it deems vital to "regional connectivity".

We’re about to find out if the government has a plan B.

Flybe's owners - a consortium headed by Virgin Atlantic - claim to have invested £140 million in the airline in the last 14 months.

That money has been burned through and the Connect consortium are unwilling to dig deeper without state aid.

The government has decided not worth the risk.