The U.K. airline Flybe abruptly ceased operations Thursday as the industry grapples with the impacts of the coronavirus.
“All Flybe flights are cancelled. Please do not go to the airport as your Flybe flight will not be operating,” the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
The company is the largest domestic airline in the U.K. with a network that included more than half domestic flights outside of London.
Airlines including Megabus and British Airways have offered special fares to passengers stranded at airports.
In February of 2019, Flybe was bought by a consortium of investors made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group, and Cyrus Capital. The group promised to invest in the airline to stabilize its finances.
The U.K. Departments for Transport, the Treasury, and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy had been in discussions with the company over the difficulties it faced. Flybe also struggled as the British pound weakened amid Brexit uncertainty. The U.K. government had agreed to a rescue deal with Flybe in January saying it was important to maintain connections for its customers.
“We are also urgently working with industry to identify how key routes can be re-established by other airlines as soon as possible,” U.K. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said.
Airlines have been imposing hiring freezes and asking employees to take unpaid leave as demand has been hurt by virus fears. January saw the slowest monthly year-over-year growth since April 2010, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Airline Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy in September.
“This is a sad day for U.K. aviation and we know that Flybe’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its employees and customers,” U.K. Civil Aviation Authority chief executive officer Richard Moriarty said.
British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air, and United Airlines are among the airlines warning on the impact of the coronavirus.
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