Monday 13 January 2020

Last rights for FlyMaybe?

It has been a long time coming, the demise of Flymaybe (indeed that has been its nickname for several years now, a nice mix of the threat of coporate collapse and poor service in one handy monicker).

Last year Virgin Atlantic stepped in for some reason lost on me and apprently has spent £100 million of Private Equity money trying to turnt he airline around. 

Alas, it seems to haev failed. For me though the heroic nature of Flybe's fall has some great angles. 

For example, it tried to corner the Hebrides business in Scotland and outcompete Logan Air. It leased expensive planes, bought landing slots and went for it. All at a massive loss. But who sat down and decided that was there world domination strategy, what next, the inter-Ireland market? 

Really, what a terribly run business by the management. Of course, the usual suspects when it comes to airline issues are alive as ever. Out of date IT which means ticketing costs more that it should and scheduling is slow so aircraft don't turnaround quick enough to generate more revenues. Plus the price of oil moving around and a weak pound sliced into margins. Finally of course, the big boys like easyjet just cherry pick the goo routes and effectively have Flymybe as a free test bed for them to see what shorthaul is working. 

Ouch, I can't see it being rescued this time and instead a period of administration and trying to be reborn with out its debt might prove the solution. 

As ever in the airline industry the saying remains true - how do you make millions in the airline business, start with billions....


Anonymous said...

"out of date IT which means ticketing costs more that it should"

They should have taken a leaf out of Boeing's book and outsourced the IT to Indian guys on £7 an hour - a fantastic wage out there on which you can live a middle class lifestyle.

After all, it worked so well on the 737 Max!

"Boeing said the company did not rely on engineers from HCL and Cyient for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been linked to the Lion Air crash last October and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March."

I note they didn't say who actually did do MCAS.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

True story follows. In the midst of a corporate savings drive I was compelled to fly with them to Paris CDG from Manchester last year.

Forewarned that they only allow tiny carry on bags, way smaller than all the other airlines, I decided to use only my laptop bag & stuff gear for a one night stay into it. They have a gauge at the gate. My overstuffed bag won’t quite go into it so the Flymaybe Quare gate agent sniffily tells me it’s going to go in the hold, for an additional £50 each way (the ticket was £85 return). Ah ha, say I, can’t do that - there’s a laptop in it, with a Li-ion battery. Not allowed. Quare fellow tells me I’ll have to carry my laptop in my hands. So I take it out of the bag. The bag now slides effortlessly into the gauge. So now it doesn’t need to go into the hold, & chummy isn’t getting my £50. But I’m *not allowed* to put my laptop back into the bag. I remonstrate at this idiocy & was told “you do have a choice, you don’t have to fly with us” - and before I could say another word almost everyone at the gate chimed in with “don’t worry chum, we won’t be in future”. I was not alone, more than 20 people got the exact same treatment. All business travellers, all people who would keep coming back if they were treated reasonably and not subjected to a shabby little racket designed to double the ticket price with a gauge deliberately smaller than all laptop bags. Naturally I haven’t flown with them again. I fly >50x per year; if they’d done a decent job of customer service they could have had a good slice of that action.

Fuck ‘em. Horrible little airline. I was almost nostalgic for BA.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Oh come on anon you don't come to C@W for speling!

Hopper said...

Anon#1: there's a huge difference between flight-critical control plane, and biz-focused ticketing.

If you screw up the latter, you eventually bankrupt the airline - but it takes a while, and honestly it's just a case of making fewer and less expensive mistakes than the competition. The only material people who care are your shareholders (mostly, your board).

Flaws in the former have to pass many levels of regulator review. Sure, they won't catch everything and there's a substantial factor of "this company hasn't screwed up recently so they're probably OK" - but you actually have to know roughly what you're doing in order to exit all the review gates. Your Indian IT contractors still needed $(aircraft_company) to make chunky expenditure on FAA-friendly regulatory experts in order to get the software certified,.

If you knew how sausages were made, you'd go vegan. If you knew how aircraft software was made... you'd probably still fly, because it's too darn convenient. But you'd get very twitchy whenever your plane had to do something unusual.

Happy landings! (All flights land - eventually)

Anonymous said...

Hopper - many a time programming in financial services I've consoled myself with the thought that the worst I can do is lose my employers some money - very different from calculating joint stresses on a bridge or a wing section, or a real-time control system.

Doesn't alter the fact that from my personal experience Indian IT isn't very good. A project which my employer outsourced to India (the idiot management outsourced a black box system, we couldn't see the code) was scrapped after several years and what must have been a billion or so spent, in India and on the vast testing team, including hordes of £500 a day people. And this brilliant vapourware system, which was going to slash admin costs, was the reason the company low-bid on other admin contracts, because of the future projected cost savings - which never materialised.

You'd get errors that had been fixed in release 1.9 suddenly popping back up in release 2.7. The bug list was always pages long.

Indian IT is nearly as bad as UK management!

Anonymous said...

When outsourcing I.T. to India, isn't India just an acronym for I'll Never Do It Again?!?

Elby the Beserk said...

@anon 1:48pm

Looks like Green craziness brought this about. Seems they destroy everything they touch, as it were...

"Air travel, which accounts for 2 percent of global emissions, has become the great bogeyman for climate alarmists, sparking a backlash against airlines.

Punitive eco-taxes, aviation regulations, activist investors, green NGOs and climate-aware passengers conspire to force airlines and manufacturers to lower CO2 emissions by using less fuel, which accounts for 99 percent of aviation’s carbon footprint.

No one has said it explicitly yet, but this relentless pressure to reduce emissions appears to have been a significant factor in the disastrous safety failures of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which resulted in two fatal crashes in the past year, claiming 346 lives.

The warning from Boeing’s catastrophes is that climate ideology can have fatal consequences.

The 737 MAX was trumpeted as “Boeing’s game changer.” It reduced emissions by 14 percent and Boeing raced it into production to compete with a climate-friendly new offering from Airbus.

But in order to achieve its green goal, Boeing had to use much bigger engines that didn’t fit in the usual position under the wing of the repurposed, 53-year-old 737 design.

The engines had to be moved forward and hoisted higher.

As a result, the aerodynamics changed, and the planes had a tendency to pitch up and potentially stall on takeoff. Boeing’s solution to this hardware defect was an imperfect software bandage that would automatically correct the pitch. In both crashes, preliminary investigations found this software kicked in even when the plane wasn’t stalling, with lethal consequences."

One day the world will look back on what destruction the Greens have wrought with horror.

Charlie said...

It's a bit of a reach to pin this one on the eco-loons. Airlines want efficiency regardless of whatever hashtags are trending today. 14% lower emissions might well be a great line for the marketing departments, but the shareholders like the associated 14% reduction in fuel consumption much more.

MCAS was nothing to do with stall prevention. Its function is to make a 737 MAX feel like a 737 NG in small areas of the flight envelope, so that pilots with a NG type rating could fly the MAX without having to go into the sim, which costs money.

Someone at Boeing decided that MCAS, a system which has full control authority of the horizontal stab sufficient to overpower the ailerons, wasn't safety critical and that pilots didn't need to be told about it. The FAA rubber stamped this decision.

The blame for hundreds of deaths is all Boeing's and the FAA's.

Charlie said...

To add...

Pitching nose-up under thrust isn't a dangerous characteristic - plenty of aeroplanes exhibit this behaviour.

Boeing could have redesigned the landing gear to give more ground clearance and allow the bigger LEAP-1B to be fitted in a more optimal position, but this would have cost more money.

Boeing could have never fitted MCAS at all, but the additional pilot training required would have cost more money.

Boeing could have driven MCAS from two AoA sensors rather than one, but this would have cost more money.

Spot the common theme.

When you've got engineers at the airframe manufacturer saying they wouldn't put their family on the plane, there has been a serious failure of corporate governance and regulation.