AVANTI West Coast has said stranded Flybe passengers and staff can travel for free on its trains to help them reach their destinations.

Phil Whittingham, managing director of Avanti West Coast, said: "This is a very difficult time for Flybe staff and passengers. If we can help make it a bit easier, we're happy to do so."

Which train companies are helping those affected by the Flybe collapse?

Free travel for Flybe passengers and staff is being offered the following:

  • All First Rail train operators, which include: Great Western Railway, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Avanti West Coast
  • LNER
  • Cross Country

LNER commercial director Suzanne Donnelly said: "We recognise this is a difficult time for Flybe staff and for customers booked to travel with the former airline.

"We are pleased to be able to offer free standard travel to help people return home following the collapse of Flybe."

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents Britain's train companies, was unable to immediately confirm if free travel for Flybe passengers would be offered by all operators.

What are aviation experts saying?

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: "Flybe played a critical and unique role in the UK aviation system, supporting the development of the regions by providing essential connectivity that no other airline or other mode of transport offered.

"Its domestic and international network also helped to unlock the tourism potential of those regions.

"There was a crucial role for Government to safeguard vital domestic connectivity.

"The announcements in January of a review into Air Passenger Duty and regional air connectivity were seen as a sign that the Government understood the vital importance of regional connectivity and the damaging impact of APD.

"It is extremely disappointing that, just a few weeks on, the promised urgent action has not led to a workable solution and that the reviews have made no progress.

"The Government now needs to urgently step up to the plate to help UK regions recover from this major blow.

"The economic and social value of regional aviation connectivity is impossible to over-estimate, with thousands of jobs in every UK region relying directly or indirectly on their local airports and their route networks."

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said: "Flybe's problems were known to many, and the sector as a whole is going through an incredibly tough period with the coronavirus hitting bookings and dampening demand, and this is being felt across the board.

"That said, this is now the fourth UK airline to go out of business in two years.

"The Government is right to say aviation is a commercial proposition and the market should win out - but they are not using the policy levers at their disposal to help the sector.

"APD (Air Passenger Duty) is the prime example of a disproportionate and penalising policy that is actively holding us back.

"Leaving the EU presents ministers with opportunities to intervene - for example getting rid of the double domestic APD anomaly, reforming EC261 (EU passenger compensation rules) or using PSOs (Public Service Obligations) in a more imaginative way - and these should be explored asap, with next week's Budget presenting the perfect opportunity."