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Urgent question in States as Flybe crisis escalates

Urgent question in States as Flybe crisis escalates

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Urgent question in States as Flybe crisis escalates


Economic Development "is in contact" with Flybe ahead of a scheduled meeting with its CEO next week over the future of the Heathrow route, however national media are reporting that the airline could be liquidated before then unless the UK Government steps in.

Europe's largest regional airline is in rescue talks with government, less than a year since it was last saved from the brink of collapse by a Virgin Atlantic-led investor group.

Former Economic Development Member Dawn Tindall lodged five emergency questions ahead of tomorrow's States meeting, asking Economic Development and the STSB, Aurigny's shareholder, whether they or other airlines would be able to cover the routes lost if Flybe ceases trading, and what the knock-on effects of that would be for their other services. 

However her list of questions has been vetoed by Bailiff's Chambers, who said that regulations only allowed for one emergency question to be asked, which Deputy Tindall is set to submit today. 

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Pictured: Deputy Dawn Tindall wants more information on whether Aurigny or other airlines could step in Flybe dissolves. 

Responding to questions from Express, a spokesman for Economic Development said the committee - which has heavily subsidised the temporary re-introduction of London Heathrow - is due to meet with senior figures at Flybe next week. 

"The Committee for Economic Development is in contact with Flybe, and has a long standing meeting scheduled with CEO Mark Anderson for next week. However, at this moment in time the Committee has no further comment on the news, which is currently speculation and rumour, as reported in the UK media."

According to reports, the UK Government is currently considering a general cut to the duty on some or all domestic flights to help out Flybe, after a request for relief on its current passenger duty bill was deemed to be in breach of EU state aid laws and UK tax policy.

Unite the Union Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland called on Government to take an active role in Flybe's recovery. 

"Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with the company to fully understand the challenges Flybe is facing," he said. "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.

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Pictured: Deputies Charles Parkinson and Peter Ferbrache head up Economic Development and the States' Trading Supervisory Board respectively.

"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."

Flybe CEO Mark Anderson has written to the company's 2,400 employees asking them "not to engage in unhelpful and unproductive speculation".

"We have made it clear in statements to the press that we continue to operate as normal. I have always made it a policy never to comment on speculation or rumour, or to be distracted and take time out to do so.

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Pictured: Flybe CEO Mark Anderson has moved to reassure staff that his team are focused on turning the company around (image from Flybe website). 

"All my energy, and that did our leadership team, is very focused on continuing using to turn Flybe, soon to be Virgin Connect, around and deliver the heartfelt service that our customers expect. 

"I do appreciate that the headlines some of you have already read are disturbing but I want you to know that we are determined to do everything we can to make this work."

A spokesperson for Blue Islands, a franchise partner of Flybe, remained tight-lipped. 

"It is business as usual for us and for Flybe. As an independent, locally owned airline, Blue Islands remains fully committed to serving the Channel Islands and customers can continue to book all Blue Islands operated services at flybe.com."

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