UK-based aviation union GMB has warned that eight regional airports could be shut down after British airline Flybe entered administration due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

As the Covid-19 epidemic takes a heavy toll on the global travel industry, the carrier has grounded all its flights and ceased trading with immediate effect.

Flybe said in a statement on its website that it was unable to arrange alternative flights for its passengers.

GMB has warned that nearly 1,700 further job losses at airports and in the supply chain could follow.

GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “GMB is calling on the government to step in and protect the regional airports. These hubs are vital parts of the UK economic infrastructure that communities and regional economies rely on.

“Those workers directly affected by the collapse of Flybe and in the supply chain need financial support to prevent hardship and protect livelihoods. We urgently need subsidies for socially necessary routes, funding for transport links and support for local authorities who want to develop airport plans.”

GMB also stated that, following the collapse of Flybe, several Swissport baggage handling jobs are now at risk at Birmingham, East Midlands, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester airports.

Houghton said: “This is devastating news for GMB members working for Swissport and a dangerous moment for the UK economy; our regional aviation infrastructure is now at risk.

“The collapse of Flybe is already having a domino effect on good jobs across regions, where aviation is vital for sustaining connectivity and supporting local economies.”