Hundreds of passengers had their flights cancelled after airline Flybmi announced it was going into administration.
Most of the passengers stuck overseas will now need to find their own way home and anyone who is scheduled to fly with Flybmi will find their ticket is worthless.
The airline operated flights on routes to 25 European cities, including Aberdeen, Bristol, City of Derry, East Midlands, Stansted and Newcastle.
Which? is urging all holidaymakers to get travel insurance cover and check Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Atol) cover for upcoming trips because instability in the travel industry looks set to continue, potentially putting Easter and summer holiday plans at risk.
We explain what you can do if you’re stuck overseas, how to make a claim to get your money back and share advice on how to make sure you’re covered for future travel.
Read more: your rights if an airline goes bust
If you’re stuck overseas because Flybmi went bust
If you’re overseas and need to get home but your Flybmi flight has now been cancelled in most cases you’ll need to book another flight home with a different airline.
Some other airlines have offered ‘repatriation fares’ to anyone stuck abroad. Repatriation fares are discounted fares offered to passengers stuck abroad due to an airline going bust.
Which? is aware of these airlines offering rescue fares for stranded Flybmi passengers:
Routes available: Bristol to Paris CDG and Paris CDG to Bristol.
Read more on the easyJet website.
Routes available: Belfast to London Stansted and London Stansted to Belfast, Milan Bergamo (Orio Al Serio) to Nuremberg and Nuremburg to Milan Bergamo.
Read more on the Ryanair website.
Routes available: London to Aberdeen and Aberdeen to London, London to Brussels and Brussels to London, London to Paris and Paris to London, London to Dusseldorf, Germany and Dusseldorf to London, London to Billund, Denmark and Billund to London, London to Frankfurt, Germany and Frankfurt to London, London to Belfast, Northern Ireland and Belfast to London, London to Munich, Germany and Munich to London, London to Newcastle and Newcastle to London, London to Oslo, Norway and Oslo to London.
Read more on the British Airways website.
You might be able to get a refund for the new flight you’ve had to book if you have travel insurance, but you’ll need to check with your insurer before making any bookings.
If you booked your Flybmi flights on a credit card
If you booked your Flybmi flights directly with the airline using a credit card and the cost was more than £100 you could make a Section 75 claim with your credit provider to get the cost of the cancelled flight refunded.
If successful, your credit card provider will refund you in full for the cost of the cancelled flight by taking the issue up with Flymbi.
In order to be eligible, you must meet either of these requirements:
- If you booked a return flight, the total value has to be at least £100
- If you booked flights one way, or individually, each flight must have cost at least £100
You can find out more about how to make a Section 75 claim under the Consumer Credit Act in our free information guide.
If your Flybmi flight cost less than £100 and you booked on a debit or credit card
You still might be able to get your money back for your cancelled flight under the chargeback scheme if you booked your Flybmi flights on a debit or credit card and they cost less than £100.
The chargeback scheme isn’t enshrined in law, but is part of the Scheme Rules which many banks subscribe to.
If neither of these situations apply but you booked a package holiday, you might be protected by Atol.
Read more: how to use the chargeback scheme
What is Atol protection?
Atol stands for an Air Travel Organiser’s License and is a government-run financial scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
If you booked a package holiday or you booked with a travel agent and they’re Atol protected, you’ll be found an alternative flight. You’ll need to check with who you booked with as to whether or not they’re part of the scheme. You can also read our guide to find out whether your holiday is Atol protected.
If your trip wasn’t Atol protected, you’re not able to make a Section 75 claim, and you can’t use the chargeback scheme, you’ll unfortunately join the list of Flybmi’s creditors.
In this scenario, it’s unlikely you’ll get all your money back, but we think it’s worth trying – contact Flybmi’s administrators to make a claim.
Make sure you’re covered for future holidays
The Flybmi collapse shows just how important it is for holidaymakers to make sure they’re have covered for their trips.
Travel editor at Which?, Rory Boland, said: ‘Instability in the travel industry has seen several airlines collapse in the past 12 months – exposing thousands of people to the nightmare of having their trip cancelled at the last minute or struggling to get home from abroad.
‘That instability looks set to continue, potentially putting Easter and Summer holiday plans at risk.
‘It’s never been more important for people to check they have some cover – by ensuring their travel agent offers Atol protection when booking a package holiday or considering scheduled airline failure as an add-on to travel insurance for those booking flights.’
To find out whether your holiday is Atol protected, you can read our full guide.
Read more: Which’s best and worst travel insurance
Why did flybmi collapse?
British Midland Regional Limited, which operated as Flybmi, said it filed for administration because of pressures caused by the rise in fuel and carbon costs, and challenges created by uncertainty over Brexit.
In a statement on its website, Flybmi : ‘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 Flybmi’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 totaling more than £40 million in the past 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.’