Flybe: 'I thought we would be saved but not this time'

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Katerine Densham
Image caption,
Katherine Densham decided to go to work anyway after hearing Flybe had collapsed

Flybe's collapse has left passengers inconvenienced and staff devastated. The airline, which accounts for up to 90% of flights at some regional airports, has gone into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.

Air hostess Katherine Densham went to work at Exeter Airport on Thursday morning despite knowing her employer had gone into administration.

"I thought that we would be saved but not this time," she said.

Ms Densham said she had worked for Flybe for 13 years "straight out of college".

She had been due to fly to London City on Thursday and had decided to come into work anyway despite finding out about the airline's collapse overnight.

"We were due to operate this morning so I just wanted to come in and see everyone."

Ms Densham, who was in tears, said she had "no idea" what she would do next but would have to "try to find something to pay the bills".

Image caption,
Kim Piner was due to fly to London with Flybe on Friday

Kim Piner, who runs a recruitment company in Truro, Cornwall, regularly travels to London from Newquay and was due to catch the 07:15 GMT flight to meet her accountant.

"It was an important meeting," she said.

"You can't do it over the internet because there are documents to be signed.

"I go up regularly, probably about once every six weeks because my parents live in south London too."

The loss of Flybe means many people in the region will now have to drive or get the train to other parts of the UK.

Ms Piner had been due to fly to London next week for a seminar. She is now planning to undertake the five-hour drive rather than risk the train.

Image caption,
Flybe accounts for a large proportion of flights from many regional airports

She said travelling by rail was "so tedious" and you never knew whether it would be delayed or a rail replacement service put in place.

"We live in a beautiful place in Cornwall but we have to have those connections," she added.

"The airport is crucial to business down here."

Ms Piner added that one of her clients was based in Manchester and losing the air link left "question marks" about whether having a premises in Newquay was a viable option.

"That concerns us," she said.

Image source, Darren Tait
Image caption,
Darren Tait's taxi firm will be taking a customer to Manchester from Cornwall on Friday

Darren Tait, who runs a taxi company in Callington, Cornwall, said about 30% of his airport work was transfers to Newquay and Exeter, where Flybe was the main carrier.

He said customers had asked to be taken to airports further afield instead and one had booked a taxi to Manchester for Friday - a 580-mile round trip.

He said he was putting on a minibus and trying to attract others who needed to do the journey, in order to keep the cost down for his customer.

"We have a lot of offshore workers in the area that use Exeter to fly away a lot," he said.

"We have got quite a lot of them away at the moment so we are just waiting to get in touch with them to find out how they are getting back."

Media caption,

Captain Ben Wing, who spoke to the BBC after landing at Southampton, said he had heard nothing from the company

Allie Baglow, a financial advisor from Manchester, said she booked multiple flights a year with Flybe to Exeter where a number of her clients are based and her family lives.

"I try to get down every other month to speak with them and having that line from Manchester to Exeter is very handy," she said.

"The flight takes around 45 minutes, so I can be there for work and back at home in one day.

"This really changes things for me as a train takes around six hours, so I will have to change the way I speak with my clients.

"I'll probably have to switch to Skype and Facetime calls as it won't be feasible for me to get down that often."

BBC Breakfast's Holly Hamilton was on a flight from Manchester to Belfast which eventually took off after two hours on the tarmac on Wednesday night.

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Image source, Clive Bush
Image caption,
Clive Bush used Flybe regularly for work and said the loss of the airline would severely impact his business

Clive Bush, director of metal distribution company Amari Metals, was on one of the last Flybe flights, from Heathrow to Newquay.

"I am a regular customer flying from Newquay to destinations around the UK," he said.

"I mainly use Flybe due to my work, as they are the main airline out of Newquay and the rest of the transport links are poor.

"A train into London can cost anywhere between £100-£400 and take over five-and-a-half hours. A flight to London is much cheaper and only an hour-and-a-half."

"Flybe is essential as it connects the rural communities with the rest of the UK."

Mr Bush said his work would be "severely affected" as he relied on being connected to the rest of the UK.

Image caption,
Paul Leveson drove to Southampton this morning so he could fly to the Channel Islands

Paul Leveson was due to fly with Flybe at 07:00 GMT from Birmingham to the Channel Islands but had to change his plans and drove to Southampton for a flight with island carrier Auringy instead.

"It's a shame, another airline going like this," he said.

"It's just a tragedy that so many people have lost their jobs because of it but you have to make the most of it and get on with it, that's my motto."

Image source, Carol Clark
Image caption,
Dr Carol Clark said Flybe provided an "essential" regional service

Meanwhile Dr Carol Clark, a dog trainer from South Belfast will now miss out on attending Crufts.

She was due to fly from Belfast City Airport to Birmingham at 06:55 but received a text at 02:06 telling her Flybe had ceased trading and not to go to the airport.

She said all other flights were "booked up solidly" until Monday meaning she could no longer attend. Instead she plans watch the event on a Facebook Live stream.

"Living in Northern Ireland, we depend on regional flights to travel to the mainland," she said.

"Ferries do not allow for day trips. Flybe's collapse will have a profound effect on us as a population and risks the future of my local airport, Belfast City.

"I cannot believe the government have refused to support this essential regional service, even though the prime minister had pledged support for regions."

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