Formally the largest independent regional airline in Europe, Flybe’s demise was seen as a result of financial difficulties compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite having spent over £100 million in an effort to revive the troubled airline, it entered administration in March 2020 and ceased all operations.

Seven months later, reports surfaced that an agreement was made with administrators to relaunch the airline the following year, subject to regulatory approvals. Fast forward to April 2021 and the revamped airline had obtained an operating licence, secured airport slots and announced a launch for summer that year.

Birmingham HQ confirmed

In November 2021, the airline announced its crew and headquarters would be based at Birmingham Airport. It followed with an update that it hoped operations would start in early 2022. Further details regarding precisely when it plans to launch are yet to be provided.

Birmingham airport
Birmingham Airport was announced as the headquarters of the relaunched airline | © Adrian Pingstone

Like its predecessor, the airline is set to use Q400 propellor planes on its routes, specifically developed by Bombardier to “meet the requirements of regional airlines for larger aircraft on high-density, short-haul routes.”

The airline has been actively recruiting cabin crew at both its new head base in Birmingham and at a planned base at Belfast City Airport.

“Not obvious” where Flybe will find its niche

There remain questions over which routes Flybe hopes to operate. Ralph Anker, an expert on airline route networks, said that since Flybe’s collapse two years ago, “the most viable of the airline’s domestic routes have been picked up mostly by either Loganair or Eastern Airways who are using more appropriately sized aircraft, especially given the post-Covid drop in domestic demand.”

“These are well-established, though much smaller carriers than Flybe was. If Flybe were to return using the larger Q400s it previously operated, it is not obvious where it would find a niche in the UK market.”

Flybe once provided over half of UK domestic flights outside London, but with under a month remaining before the start of airlines’ summer routing schedule, it is looking increasingly likely that it won’t begin clawing back this market share in the coming weeks or months.

When do you see Flybe returning to the skies? Let us know in the comments below.

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