Unions call on government to keep Flybe flying

Unions have called on the government to do whatever it takes to ensure Flybe carries on connecting the nations and regions of the UK.

The news broke yesterday that secret talks have been taking place without employees or their representatives involved, or even informed.

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “If Flybe didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. The airline plays an incredibly important role connecting the regions and nations of the UK and onwards to Europe.

“The importance of that regional connectivity cannot be overstated. Cities such as Exeter, Southampton, Birmingham and Cardiff rely extremely heavily on Flybe for their air links and for their economic prosperity. Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man would also suffer hugely if Flybe’s routes suddenly disappeared.

“On top of that Flybe has over 2,400 dedicated and loyal staff members, including pilots, many of whom have been with the company for a long time, and none of whom deserve to lose their job over years of management failures. Plus the airline serves as a skills pipeline for the rest of the UK aviation sector.

“We understand that talks are ongoing. The government must recognise that the UK cannot afford to lose yet another airline, and the markets that Flybe serves cannot afford to lose their air connections which help businesses thrive. So we urge the government to take every possible action to keep Flybe flying.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The speculation about Flybe’s future is deeply unhelpful and incredibly unsettling for the company’s loyal workforce. Unite is now seeking an urgent meeting with the company to fully understand the challenges Flybe is facing.

“Unite is committed to helping ensure the future of the company and to preserve jobs but this can’t be achieved if the union is kept in the dark.

“It is essential that the government plays an active role in helping to ensure that Flybe continues to operate. It is not acceptable for the government simply to prepare for failure.

“The government must demonstrate that it has learnt the lessons from the collapse of Monarch, which it failed to apply during the collapse of Thomas Cook.

“The government must implement both the Airline Insolvency Review and the Insolvency and Corporate Governance Review at the earliest possible opportunity. It has previously committed to do so, but actions speak far louder than words.”

GMB members working for Swissport provide ground services for Flybe at Liverpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh and Jersey airports. GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “If Flybe goes belly up, it won’t just be direct employees at risk but 1,400 supply chain jobs as well.

“Our economy is tanking. The last thing we need is an airline to go under – especially one which provides a vital public service in some parts of the country. If government is serious about infrastructure investment in the regions, it must step in and protect what already exists.”

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