—Flybe airlines ceased operations earlier this month after the UK government failed to grant a proposed £100 million ($129 million) loan. At the same time Virgin Atlantic, part of the Connect Airways consortium that has funded Flybe, said that it could “no longer commit to continued financial support” despite its investment of over £135 million in the carrier. Comments cited in published reports placed part of the blame on the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Flybe’s operations, which provided service in the UK and Europe and served as a connector to long-haul flights. The airline was established in 1979 as Jersey European Airways. Over the years, it went through several name changes and ownerships, the last being its acquisition in February 2019 by the Connect Airways consortium. However, Flybe continued to incur losses and it had significant tax debts. It employed a staff of 2,400.
—Trapsatur, a Madrid-based tour operator that provided escorted bus tours of Spanish and Portuguese destinations, has entered into bankruptcy proceedings. The company has not ceased operations, so that it can be overseen by an administrator who will try to save it in order to sell it, according to REPORTUR, a Mexico-based trade journal connected with the Spanish trade news portal preferente.com. Trapsatur is a subsidiary of the Tenerife-based Gowaii Vacation Holding whose subsidiaries, provides online travel services such as charter flights, hotel bookings, theme parties, and entertainment services. According to news reports, Gowaii has decided to focus on its air business.
—The UK tour operator Great Little Breaks has announced plans to fill the void left by the closure last August of Super Break. The latter was a part of the Malvern Group, whose brands included both Superbreak and LateRooms, and which ceased operations. Great Little Breaks, part of Hotelshop UK, has increased its hotel inventory and is planning to add rail and theatre packages to its portfolio. In addition, the operator was planning to launch a trade portal, agents to book online. Until January this year the operator was direct-sell only.
—Oyo Hotels has announced that it is laying off 5,000 employees because of a huge decline in demand and, according to news accounts, profitability problems that have been dragging on for months. The India—based company is eliminating jobs in China, the United States and India at the direction of its main shareholder, the Japanese conglomerate Softbank, which is committed to reducing the company’s expansion program in order to focus on less aggressive and more profitable growth. “In the previous phase, we have incorporated many hotels to our platform and have built a brand,” the company’s founder and CEO, Ritesh Agarwal, said in an interview with Bloomberg in which he outlined his change of plans: “Our first objective of 2020 is to grow profitably.” The layoffs will mostly affect China, where the chain will dispense with almost half of its 6,000 direct employees after the coronavirus crisis. In addition, Oyo will also cut 1,200 jobs in India, 12 percent of the total. “In China, the coronavirus has affected us and in specific provinces, we are trying to keep the hotels open, as much as possible,” Agarwal told Bloomberg. “It’s a difficult time for our hotel partners.”
—Level, the low-cost long-haul airline that is part of the IAG group, significantly increased its losses in 2019 due to a financial crisis in Argentina and the opening of a new base in Paris that was not successful, say reports from the travel trade press in South America and Europe. From its base in Barcelona, Level serves Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Newark, Oakland and San Francisco. In the group’s annual report, CEO Willie Walsh said that “Level had a disparate year.” Walsh noted, too, that the opening of Level’s new Paris base did not go well: “The opening of a second long distance base in Paris also proved to be more difficult than expected, although the situation improved in the second half.” Level closed the year with a negative after-tax result of €39.26 million ($44.5 million), which was almost a five-fold increase of an €8.37 million ($9.5 million) in the previous year.