Hundreds stranded as British airline Flybmi collapses

Hundreds stranded as British airline Flybmi collapses
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LONDON — Hundreds of passengers throughout Europe have been stranded by the abrupt collapse of the British regional airline Flybmi.

British Midland Regional Limited, which operates as Flybmi, said it’s filing for administration — a British version of bankruptcy — because of higher fuel costs and uncertainty caused by Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union.

“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 a lack of confidence around bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe,” the airline said on its website.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 but there are serious doubts about whether the British Parliament will approval the Brexit withdrawal deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU. That is making it more difficult for businesses to plan for the separation.

The airline operated 17 jets on routes to 25 European cities. It employed 376 people in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.

The airline said all flights will be cancelled and advised passengers to seek refunds from credit card issuers, travel agents or travel insurance companies.

Thanking workers for their dedication, the airline said “it is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement.”

Pilots union chief Brian Strutton said the airline’s collapse “is 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.

The airline was still encouraging bookings the day before its collapse, urging passengers in a tweet to book flights to Germany for winter sports.

Flybmi says it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights last year.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

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