Hundreds of passengers throughout Europe have been stranded by the abrupt collapse of the British regional airline Flybmi.

British Midland Regional Limited, which operates as Flybmi, said it's filing for administration — a British version of bankruptcy — because of higher fuel costs and uncertainty caused by Britain's upcoming departure from the European Union.

"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 a lack of confidence around Bmi's ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe," the airline said on its website late Saturday.

The airline thanked workers for their dedication and said "it is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement."

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Bristol Airport: Passengers were told not to turn up for flights on Sunday as the airline files for administration. Photo / Getty Images
Bristol Airport: Passengers were told not to turn up for flights on Sunday as the airline files for administration. Photo / Getty Images

The airline operated 17 jets on routes to 25 European cities. It employed 376 people in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium and says it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights last year.

Pilots union chief Brian Strutton said the airline's collapse came with no warning and "is devastating news for all employees."

"Our immediate steps will be to support Flybmi pilots and explore with the directors and administrators whether their jobs can be saved," he said.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 but there are serious doubts about whether the British Parliament will approval the Brexit withdrawal deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU. That is making it more difficult for businesses to plan for the separation.

Sudden departure: Scheduled flights were cancelled following the collapse of the airline. Photo / Getty Images
Sudden departure: Scheduled flights were cancelled following the collapse of the airline. Photo / Getty Images

Flybmi said all flights will be cancelled and advised passengers to seek refunds from credit card issuers, travel agents or travel insurance companies.

Passengers were told not to travel to the airport Sunday unless they had made arrangements directly with other airlines. Flybmi said it would not be rescheduling passengers on other airlines' flights.

Many passengers were left stranded by the shutdown. Hannah Price told Sky News she was planning to return Monday to Britain from Brussels on Flybmi.

Grounded: Embraer aircraft in the livery of the now bankrupt BMI airline at Bristol Airport. Photo /Nicolas Economou, Getty Images
Grounded: Embraer aircraft in the livery of the now bankrupt BMI airline at Bristol Airport. Photo /Nicolas Economou, Getty Images

"Unfortunately for me, I was supposed to be flying home with them in less than 48 hours to Bristol. I don't think that's going to happen now," she said.

The collapse will have a major impact on the Northern Ireland city of Derry, also known as Londonderry, which will lose its only air connection to London. Officials at the City of Derry Airport said they were urgently seeking a new carrier to keep the link open.

Flybmi was still seeking customers up until the day before its collapse, urging people in a tweet to book flights to Germany for a winter sports holiday.

What can you do if your air carrier collapses?

The bankrupt airline warned passengers booked on its services not to turn up for flights after Sunday. The collapse of the carrier left hundreds of passengers stranded across its network in Europe.

But what can you do if your flight was affected?

This can be greatly complicated depending on what part of the world your cancelled flights were into or out of. Fortunately passengers in flying though European airspace have a number of different protections, even in the event of an airline running out of cash.

Look for code share partners

Code share partners - where other airlines are operating flights on behalf of another carrier - can often still honour tickets.

You can check online, or through your booking agent as to who is operating your flight - and in this case contact the specific airline directly to see if you can continue to fly unaffected.

However, you may still find yourself an airfare short if only one leg is operated by a partner airline.

Flybmi operated a code share partnership with Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Loganair, Air France and Air Dolomiti.

What can the collapsed airline do for my cancelled flight?

Not a lot.
The bankrupt airline is unable to buy new flights for passengers.

As a European airline EU reg 261/2004 entitles passengers to make a claim for compensation, but this could be difficult in the face of chasing a fare from a cash-strapped airline.

There may be quicker ways to claim and offset the costs of last minute replacement bookings.

What can I do now my air carrier has gone bankrupt?

Checking your travel insurance for existing cover is a first port of call.

The Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) agency issued the following advice to customers:

Keep hold of your 'Negative response letter' or any emails informing you that the airline has not been able to uphold their promise of providing flights.

If you recently booked your flight via a credit card you may be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and be able to claim back costs.

Bookings made through travel agents may have included Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (Safi) in which case the cost of the original cost of the tickets or the cost of replacement tickets may be covered.

If your booking was as part of a package holiday offering Atol protection - common on UK package holidays - the firm arranging the travel must make alternative travel arrangements or provide a refund in full.

https://www.flybmi.com/en