Failed airline FlyBMI ‘owed £37m’ when it collapsed, say administrators

BMI Embraer 145Image copyright BMI Regional
Image caption Flybmi had a fleet of Embraer jets

The regional airline FlyBMI owed £37m when it collapsed.

Most creditors, including passengers and suppliers who have lost out, may receive only 1% of their claims, say administrators.

The airline cancelled all flights and filed for administration in February, blaming spikes in fuel and carbon costs and uncertainty over Brexit.

Many of the airline’s routes, aircraft and former staff have been taken on by its sister airline company, LoganAir.

When FlyBMI filed for administration, passengers were due £3.8m under EU compensation rules, according to a statement of affairs from the company’s directors.

Passengers whose flights were cancelled were told to contact their travel agents or insurance or credit card companies for a refund.

Rolls Royce was owed £2.25m for a servicing contract, the statement of affairs says.

Aircraft ‘detained’

FlyBMI ran services for mainly business passengers between UK regional airports and continental European cities, including Munich, Frankfurt and Brussels.

Stansted Airport and Bristol Airport were owed money by FlyBMI, according to a list of unsecured creditors to the airline.

The carrier operated 17 aircraft, 14 of which were “detained” after the administration “due to unpaid navigation service charges,” according to the administrators.

Parent company Airline Investments Limited (AIL) said the company made a loss of £6.8m in the year to 31 March 2018 and losses deepened during the rest of 2018.

“The company was also becoming increasingly concerned about the potential impact of Brexit and the ability to conduct intra-European flying whilst operating under a UK Operators Certificate,” say the administrators BDO.

BDO said FlyBMI’s trading was worse than forecast at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 when FlyBMI’s ultimate owners, the aviation entrepreneurs Peter and Stephen Bond, said they would stop funding FlyBMI.

AIL said more than £40m had been invested in FlyBMI in the six years before its collapse.

Staff hired

Many of FlyBMI’s former routes, including those from Newcastle and Aberdeen, are now operated by LoganAir.

The Scottish airline has also taken over several “key” contracts that FlyBMI used to operate, including one for Airbus and the route between Derry and London Stansted.

“Any airline is free to start routes as they see fit, and indeed one other airline has already announced services on a former BMI route too”, LoganAir’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles told the BBC in February.

Fifteen aircraft which carried FlyBMI livery are currently, or will soon be, operated by LoganAir.

About 130 former FlyBMI pilots and cabin crew now work for LoganAir.

Airport landing slots controlled by FlyBMI were “transferred” to LoganAir before administrators were appointed “preventing the airports seeking to cancel them”, BDO says, adding that LoganAir is trying to sell the slots.

The two airlines used to “trade as sister airlines with their own management teams and brand identities but taking advantage of commercial, operational and procurement synergies”, according to AIL.

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