As of 16 February, operations for British Midland Regional Limited – also known as flybmi – ceased, and large numbers of passengers have rushed to check whether they have Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) coverage following their flight cancellations from and to the UK and within Europe.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advised those who purchased travel insurance that included SAFI to contact their insurer. For those who did not book directly with the airline, the CAA suggested contacting booking or travel agents.
The CAA added: “Some airlines and airline ticket agents will offer customers either a specific Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance policy or include similar protection within a broader travel insurance product.” It also highlighted that protection will vary depending on the type of policy taken out: “A policy may simply cover the cost of the original tickets purchased or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK.”
Customers who booked either by credit or debit card are advised to contact their card issuers – those that booked directly with the airline using their credit cards may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, while consumers who paid by debit or charge card may be able to make a claim under charge back rules.
Flybmi is filing for administration following recent increases in fuel prices and carbon costs resulting from the EU’s decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme – a decision which a flybmi spokesperson claimed had ‘undermined efforts to move the airline into profit’.
The statement continued: “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 lack of confidence around [our] ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe.” It also noted that their situation ‘mirrors well-documented wider difficulties in the regional airline industry’. “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 £40 million 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.”
With regards to the 376 employees affected by the administration, the spokesperson added: “Our employees have worked extremely hard over the last few years and we would like to thank them for their dedication to the company, as well as all our loyal customers who have flown with us over the last six years.”