A British airline has unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy, leaving passengers stranded throughout Europe.
Holidaymakers were left shocked after British Midland Regional Limited, which operates as Flybmi, announced without warning it had filed for administration and cancelled all flights.
Flybmi blamed higher fuel costs and uncertainty caused by Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union for its unexpected decision to cease operations.
It was still advertising for customers to book flights to Germany for a winter sports holiday up until the day before its collapse.
The airline operated 17 jets on routes to 25 European cities. It employed 376 people in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.
Flybmi says it is not able to purchase, rearrange or reschedule journeys for its customers.
Instead, passengers were advised to seek refunds from credit card issuers, travel agents or travel insurance companies, following the collapse of the airline.
A text message alerted Durham university student Mary Ward that flights had been cancelled and redirected her to Flybmi’s website for “further details”.
“URGENT: Important message for Flybmi customers. All flights are cancelled. Please go to www.flybmi.com for further details. Thank you.”
Ms Ward told BBC that she was due to fly from Brussels to Newcastle but was unsure how she will return to the UK.
She said: “I paid £130 ($234) for my flight which it doesn’t seem I’m going to get back – I don’t know how I am going to get back to Durham.
“I can’t afford any of the flights or the Eurostar.”
Pilots’ union chief Brian Strutton said the airline’s collapse was “devastating news for all employees” and came with no warning.
“Our immediate steps will be to support Flybmi pilots and explore with the directors and administrators whether their jobs can be saved,” he said.
Thanking workers for their dedication, a Flybmi spokesman said “it is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement.”
“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.
“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.”
Flybmi says it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights last year.
Its planes travelled to destinations in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland and Sweden.