British Midland Regional Limited, aka flybmi, ceased operations on February 16 – cancelling all flights both from and to the UK and within Europe. That means a deluge of queries from passengers to check whether they have Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) coverage.
“If you purchased travel insurance that may include cover for scheduled airline failure, known as SAFI, you should contact your insurer,” advised the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority. “If you did not book directly with British Midland and purchased your tickets through an intermediary, you should contact your booking or travel agent in the first instance.”
Those who 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. Card users, either credit or debit, are advised to reach out to their card issuers.
“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,” added the regulator. “The type of protection provided may 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.”
Flybmi, which is filing for administration, operated 17 regional jet aircraft on routes to 25 European cities. Carrying 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights in 2018, the company had codeshare agreements with Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Loganair, Air France, and Air Dolomiti.
“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,” stated a flybmi spokesperson over the weekend. “These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit.
“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 bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe. Additionally, our situation mirrors wider difficulties in the regional airline industry which have been well documented.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Flybmi had a workforce of 376 people in the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium.
“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,” said the spokesperson.