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Flybe collapse: Northern Ireland business and tourism leaders hit out at 'negative impact'

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Hospitality Ulster's Colin Neill said the collapse "sounds alarm" for sector (Hospitality Ulster/PA)

Hospitality Ulster's Colin Neill said the collapse "sounds alarm" for sector (Hospitality Ulster/PA)

Hospitality Ulster's Colin Neill said the collapse "sounds alarm" for sector (Hospitality Ulster/PA)

Northern Ireland business leaders have said the collapse of Flybe will have a "hugely negative" impact, citing concerns around connectivity and tourism.

The airline announced in the early hours of Thursday it had ceased trading with immediate effect.

Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton said the news was devastating for staff and said it will have a knock-on affect to the connectivity that impacts business and tourism on a massive scale.

"I know that the team at Belfast City Airport will work hard to find new airlines for these key routes and Belfast Chamber urges Government at all levels to support them to ensure that our connectivity [...] isn’t harmed by the unfortunate collapse of FlyBe," he said.

Have you been affected by the collapse of Flybe? Contact us digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Chief executive of Visit Belfast Gerry Lennon said the news is "deeply concerning". He said the hope is that the routes are re-established as quickly as possible.

"With over 1.7m visitors annually, tourism generates over £395m each year for the city economy and supports 19,000 jobs so it is imperative that industry and government work together to minimise the impact.

"To achieve our ambitious growth targets, the city and region need to see a continued uplift in air capacity," he said.

Chief executive of Hospitality Ulster Colin Neill said there will be a knock-on effect for tourism.

"This sounds alarm for our pubs, restaurants and hotels at a time when Coronavirus is compounding the sector’s problems," he said.

"Great Britain is our largest tourism market and without that regional connectivity, the hospitality sector is going to take a real hammering. Our only hope in the short term is that other carriers can increase capacity so that visitors can come here and not be put off by Flybe’s collapse.

"This is a very clear reason why Air Passenger Duty needs to be scrapped immediately and we call on the Chancellor to wake up to this grave situation and cancel APD in his Budget only a week away."

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said while it is clearly bad news for the economy and connectivity, he is "confident" Belfast City Airport will find new carriers for their vital air routes across the UK.

"Belfast City Airport is a crucial part of our transport infrastructure and is vital to the future of our local economy," he said.

"Tourists and business travellers who use Belfast City Airport are important customers for our retail sector in Belfast City Centre and across Northern Ireland.

"We need to see Government at all levels supporting the City Airport during these challenging times as they engage with new carriers and address the issue of APD. I have no doubt that the airport will come through this difficulty and go from strength to strength."

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