1. ITV Report

Flybmi cancels flights from Newcastle Airport amid collapse

Airline Flybmi has suspended flights from Newcastle International Airport as the company files for administration, blaming uncertainty around Brexit.

British Midland Regional Limited, which had operated 17 regional jet aircraft on routes to 25 European cities, said all flights were cancelled from Saturday.

Difficulties have included increases in fuel and carbon costs, as well as challenges "particularly those created by Brexit", a statement on the airline's website said.

Flights to the Norwegian city Stavanger and Brussels have been cancelled from Newcastle Airport.

In a statement Newcastle International Airport said:

We are aware that the airline flybmi has filed for administration. The airline operated the Newcastle to Brussels and Newcastle to Stavanger routes. Passengers due to travel with flybmi should refer to the information that has been provided on the airline’s website"

– Newcastle International Airport
A total of 376 employees based in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium are employed by bmi Regional. Credit: PA

A total of 376 employees based in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium are employed by bmi Regional.

The East Midlands-based airline had operated flights from Aberdeen, Bristol, City of Derry, East Midlands, London Stansted and Newcastle in the UK.

Last year, the airline carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights, according to its website.

It is understood there are 1,500 passengers who were scheduled to fly with the airline on Sunday, most of whom are thought to be business passengers.

A statement from the 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.

"Against this background, it has become impossible for the airline's shareholders to continue their extensive programme of funding into the business, despite investment totalling over £40 million in the last six years.

"We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option open to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable."

Customers have been advised to contact their payment card issuer to get a refund for flights, while those who have booked through a travel agent or partner airlines are advised to contact their agent or airline for details of their options.

One passenger said he had already gone through security at Bristol airport when his flight was cancelled.

He tweeted: "Our @flybmi from Bristol to Munich (which had previously been changed from Southampton) was cancelled with no explanation after we had gone through security!"

He later added that he had arrived in Munich, having flown with Lufthansa from Heathrow.

Another tweeted: "My flight with @flybmi on the 19 Mar is up the swanny then.

Charity event to be revisited as and when I get official word."

Last year, the airline carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights, according to its website. Credit: PA

On Thursday, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the route between City of Derry Airport and London Stansted would be subsidised by the Government, in partnership with the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the deal would be renewed for another two years until May 1, 2021.

Discussions are under way to find an airline to operate the route, which is a public service obligation.

A DfT spokesman said: "It is very disappointing that Flybmi has gone into administration and we know this will be a very difficult time for those who have lost their jobs as a result.

"This will also of course be disruptive for passengers. We are fully focused on supporting those affected and are in contact with airports, airlines and other transport providers to ensure everything possible is being done to help them.''