One year on – the Inside story on the shock collapse of Flybe

A year ago, late on a cold and windy night in March, Flybe pilots around the country peered nervously at their mobile phones, their eyes locked on the plane-tracking app Flightradar24.

Gradually, they watched as the last few Flybe aircraft touched down for the night.

Then they braced themselves for the worst.

Just hours earlier, explosive rumours had started circulating that the airline was on the brink of going bust. Reports of planes being denied access to runways, passengers not boarding aircraft, and pilots unable to fill up with fuel became rife.

Knowing that an announcement by the company’s senior management would only be forthcoming once all planes were on the tarmac, employees waited nervously to discover the company’s fate.

When it came, the news was devastating. The 40-year-old airline, a mainstay of Devon business and a vital cog in the UK’s transport network, would enter administration in a matter of hours.

It saw more than 3,500 people lose their jobs – 1,000 of whom were based in Exeter – and has left a gaping hole in UK air travel that has only been partially filled since.

In an exclusive for DevonLive, two people with front row seats of the airline’s crash – one a senior manager, the other a pilot – discuss what really went wrong for a company that was once the pride of Exeter.

[Don’t forget that Cllr Sarah Randall-Johnson was General Manager for PR and Public Affairs for Flybe at the time Cllr Paul Diviani took over as Leader of EDDC from her in 2011 – Owl]

Flybe’s total passengers over time since 1985 (Image: PA)

Given this history what went wrong? How could they lurch so turbulently between profit and loss?

Click the link below to read these two insider accounts. 

Howard Lloyd