Published on : Saturday, March 7, 2020
Flybe, the British airline abruptly shut down Thursday, causing chaos for passengers who were slated to travel on the airline and leading the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority as well as train and bus services to step in to try to mitigate the upheaval.
Flybe collapsed Thursday amid drops in demand caused by the new coronavirus outbreak.
Northern Ireland resident Xenia Pestova Bennett, 40, was briefly stranded in Bournemouth, England, after a concert. Bennett was about to check out of her hotel room and head to the airport when she received a text telling her not to bother.
The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement Thursday that “All Flybe flights are cancelled. Please do not go to the airport as your Flybe flight will not be operating.”
“FlyBe are not giving us money back or rebooking us, and I have about 10 flights booked with them for the rest of the spring, which will now be lost,” she told USA TODAY. “That’s thousands of pounds gone.”
Lekan Ojookiji Abasi, who was due to catch a flight from Belfast to Manchester en route to visit his mother in Nigeria, turned up at the airport — only to learn the bad news.
“I arrived here at about 4.25 a.m. and the whole place was empty,,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
In response to the shutdown, the Civil Aviation Authority is offering free travel to Flybe staff and customers over the next week, as are Britain’s train operators. Bennett ultimately managed to get to London, though she will need to get home from there.
Other airlines and operators are offering help for customers in need, including Megabus and British Airways.