Unite is seeking urgent meetings with regional airline Flybmi after it collapsed into administration at the weekend (February 16), prompting an immediate cancellation of all of their flights.
Flybmi’s bankruptcy has put nearly 350 jobs at risk. Unite is now seeking to ensure that the workforce is not left out of pocket and that their wages are paid in full. The union will also be pressing for a new buyer to be found as soon as possible so members can continue to serve passengers.
A Flybmi spokesperson said that the airline’s “current trading and future prospects” had 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,” the Flybmi spokesperson added. “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 £40m 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.”
Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Parish Patel said that Unite was “shocked and saddened by the news that Flybmi has gone into administration.”
“This is a terrible blow for the airline’s workforce and their families, as well as the East Midlands economy,” he added. “We will be giving maximum support to our members who work for the airline across the UK at this very difficult time for them.
“Clearly though, the airline has been caught by rising costs and falling passenger numbers amid Brexit uncertainty, which is threatening the whole of the sector and undermined Flybmi’s ability to secure future flying contracts,” Patel went on to say.
“We urge the government to pay heed and do more to restore confidence in the economy and for prime minister Theresa May to urgently act to bring clarity on our future relationship with the EU before many more jobs are put at risk.”
Flybmi’s demise has come at a time of mounting difficulties for the airline industry. In 2017, Britain’s Monarch airlines went bust, as did the Birmingham-based Cello Aviation a year later. Last month, another British-based airline Flybe announced it was on the verge of bankruptcy “amid significant uncertainties presented by Brexit”.
A number of other European airlines have met the same fate in recent years, including Air Berlin, Alitalia (which is now being supported by the Italian government) alongside other smaller airlines such as Primera, Cobalt and Azurair.
Unite has previously highlighted the impact of Brexit uncertainty regarding open skies agreements, These agreements allow an EU airline to fly from one foreign country to another without stopping in its home country and to fly internally within a foreign country – in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would automatically no longer be part of such agreements.