UK cabinet ministers to discuss Flybe rescue package

Darnell Taylor
January 14, 2020

The airline was on the brink of collapse last night as bosses pleaded with ministers to defer its multi-million-pound air passenger duty bill.

The airline employs around 2,000 people.

Flybe operates nearly two in five British domestic flights, and 2,000 jobs are at risk if the company fails, just a year after it was rescued by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic.

Exeter-based airline Flybe is reportedly locked in survival talks tonight, less than a year after being bailed out by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium.

If Flybe collapses, it would be the second United Kingdom airline to fail in four months, after Thomas Cook went bust in September.

With the jobs of up to 2,400 Flybe staff at risk, union leaders are furious they have been frozen out of talks.

The Connect Airways consortium, which rescued Flybe from going under less than a year ago, promised to pump £100 million into the carrier to help secure its long-term future. A £13 on every passenger that departs a United Kingdom airport.

Aviation consultant John Strickland told the PA news agency that some of these airports would suffer a "significant impact" if Flybe ceased operations.

"We don't comment on rumour or speculation", the airliner noted.

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Flybe now operates around 75 aircraft across over 70 airports in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Stephen Farry, Alliance Party MP for North Down, said it was "very worrying for Northern Ireland and our connectivity to GB".

Flights operated as normal on Monday.

In a global statement issued to the press and to its passengers, Flybe said the company "continues to provide great service and connectivity for our customers while ensuring they can continue to travel as planned". Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots" union Balpa, said: "I am appalled that once again the future of a major United Kingdom airline and hundreds of jobs is being discussed in secret with no input from employees or their representatives'.

"So we urge the Government to take every possible action to keep Flybe flying".

Belfast City Airport declined to comment but did say it was "business as usual for Flybe" at the airport.

The airline began as Jersey European Airways in 1979, operating regional flights from Jersey.

Flybe's network of routes include more than half of United Kingdom domestic flights outside London.

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