Flybe cancels flights amid redundancy talks

Flybe shares

Regional airline Flybe has cancelled dozens of Wednesday morning flights as it enters discussions over potential job losses.

The company blamed an industry-wide shortage of pilots for the delays, as well as its own pilots taking holidays.

Flights from Belfast City Airport and Birmingham are among those affected. Most of the flights are within the UK.

The airline said it would like to “sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused”.

What has the company said about job losses?

The discussions over jobs are at an early stage and the company will try and avoid job losses by filling internal vacancies with existing staff, including roles at other bases, Flybe’s chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener said.

The company is “engaging with all impacted crew”, she added.

Of the delays, she said the company would “follow all the rules of compensation” and that “we are expecting to go back to normal operation as soon as possible”.

While the disruption was widespread, it only affected 5% of flights, she insisted.

Cardiff Airport boss Deb Barber said: “We understand Flybe is in the process of consulting with a number of its employees, including its crew at multiple bases across its network, which includes Cardiff.

“Flybe’s plan to restructure and reduce its jet operations across many bases is part of the company’s long-standing objective to stabilise the business,” she said.

Which airports will be affected?

The cuts will affect Doncaster, Norwich and Exeter, as well as Cardiff, as the company seeks to drop expensive jets in favour of cheaper turboprop airliners.

The company says it will make the following changes:

  • Exeter – Flybe will fly its last jets from the airport on 26 October. This will not affect turboprop flights or its “base structure” it said.
  • Norwich – Jets will also stop flying from this airport at around the same time. This will not affect services at Norwich operated by Flybe’s franchise partner, Eastern Airways, it said.
  • Cardiff and Doncaster – Flybe will also stop flying jets from these two airports. It will close its servicing operations at the airports, but will offer turboprop flights.

Unite the union regional officer Peter Coulson said: “Unite is seeking to minimise the potential job losses and secure assurances about Flybe’s long-term future.”

He urged the company to be forthcoming about its plan.

“It is essential that Flybe is fully transparent with its workforce about the exact situation facing the company. The current uncertainty is incredibly unsettling and is in danger of severely damaging morale at the company.”