Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Blow for George Best Belfast City Airport as 52 Flybe staff lose jobs

Flybe said it was business as usual and wouldn't be drawn on whether any of its routes will be cut
Flybe said it was business as usual and wouldn't be drawn on whether any of its routes will be cut

Airline Flybe's George Best Belfast City Airport base has borne a large part of the swingeing cuts to the airline's workforce after it announced 52 pilots and cabin crew will face redundancy.

With that total nearly a third of the total headcount of 163 based in Belfast, only the airline's headquarters in Exeter has suffered a harsher reduction in headcount with 116 staff due to be cut.

The "proposed" redundancies are part of the 500 jobs chief executive Saad Hammad earlier in the week announced he was going to cut across the UK.

The airline currently employs 2,700 people in total.

Flybe said it was business as usual and wouldn't be drawn on whether any of its routes will be cut as a result of the restructuring of the business by Mr Hammad.

He told the Belfast Telegraph the Belfast City Airport base was "core" to Flybe. Since taking over at the helm of the business, he has launched a full scale overhaul and earlier this week managed to report a profit of nearly £14m.

That profit and the announcement of further headcount reduction helped push the Flybe share price up by around 30%, although the stock is still trading at around a third of its 2010 value.

"It is a matter of great regret that many valued and hard-working colleagues may leave the company," Mr Saad said.

"The proposed redundancy process will be done fairly to deliver an equitable outcome for all employees involved in Belfast, to provide the best possible basis for future company growth and secure the long term employment for the remainder of our staff."

The airline is now consulting with staff and unions. Alliance East Belfast MLA Judith Cochrane said she was disappointed.

"I am particularly concerned as the City Airport has the second highest number of job losses in this announcement by Flybe, especially given that it will mean a third of the employees will lose their job," she said.

"The decision by Flybe to scrap its Belfast to Gatwick route earlier this year may have been a factor in its decision to cut so many jobs here."

BACKGROUND

Budget airline Flybe Group PLC is Europe's largest independent regional flight provider which operates more than 180 routes to 65 European ariports. It came into being in 1979 under the name of Jersey European Airways. Currently employing around 2,600 people, it has large bases at George Best Belfast City Airport as well as Southampton, Birmingham and Manchester airports. It has a total of 14 bases across the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The airline is the biggest operator at George Best Belfast City Airport.