Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Flybe workers concerned about their futures, says union leader

An industry-wide shortage of pilots was partially blamed by Flybe for Wednesday’s disruption to 10 flights in and out of Belfast.

Passengers received texts and emails on Tuesday evening telling them of problems with their flights (Liam McBurney/PA)
Passengers received texts and emails on Tuesday evening telling them of problems with their flights (Liam McBurney/PA)

Flybe workers in Northern Ireland are concerned about their futures, a union has said.

On Wednesday the airline cancelled 10 flights from and to George Best Belfast City Airport.

Flybe blamed a combination of factors “including seasonality, pilots’ end of leave year, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry”.

It said cancellations were not due to a base review which affects four airports in Great Britain.

Unite represents more than 60 Flybe workers in Northern Ireland – we will be seeking answers and assurances for these members George Brash

Unite the union’s George Brash said: “Workers at Belfast City Airport are justifiably concerned about their jobs and future employment, after the company cancelled a number of flights for ‘operational reasons’.”

The airline is to stop jet flights from Cardiff, Doncaster, Exeter and Norwich.

Mr Brash is regional officer for civil aviation in Northern Ireland.

He is seeking “urgent” meetings with senior management at Flybe on a national and regional basis to acquire full facts about the company’s difficulties and secure assurances over jobs.

He added: “Unite represents more than 60 Flybe workers in Northern Ireland – we will be seeking answers and assurances for these members.

“We will also be seeking assurances as to the future plans for the company. Whatever comes, Unite will robustly defend our members’ jobs and interests.”

Flights affected include services to Birmingham, and round trips to and from Leeds Bradford and Aberdeen. A flight from East Midlands was also cancelled.

The Consumer Council said it was in talks with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure passengers are fully informed of their rights.

It added:  “Given the Flybe statement regarding the causes behind the cancellations, passengers should also be entitled to compensation under EU regulations.”

A statement by the airline said it sincerely apologised.

“Whilst 95% of Flybe flights are operating as per normal, we do recognise the impact of today’s cancellations.

“We are doing our best to mitigate the impact of the current situation that has arisen due to a combination of factors including seasonality, pilots’ end of leave year, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry that Flybe has highlighted over recent months.

“We have already identified several mitigation actions and will be issuing further updates throughout the day.

“All those affected have been emailed and advised they can re-book for travel on an alternative flight or apply for a full refund.”

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Flybe said it had put a number of contingency plans in place “to minimise future disruptions and to manage any repeat of the level of cancellations made today [Wednesday]”.

“No cancellations are expected tomorrow [Thursday],” the company said.

“The future situation remains under review and we will be doing everything possible to avoid any further undue inconvenience to passengers.”

It appealed for customers to go online to re-book their flights due to the high volume of calls being made to its customer call centre.

Passengers received texts and emails on Tuesday evening telling them of problems with their flights.

The disruption followed the launch of the airline’s summer schedule.

Flybe was recently bought by the Connect Airways consortium, which includes Virgin Atlantic.

PA

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