| 5.5°C Belfast

Flybe: 'Heartbroken' Northern Ireland pilot worried about job prospects amid coronavirus outbreak

Close

A Northern Ireland pilot has said she is heartbroken by the loss of her job at Flybe. (Tim Goode/PA)

A Northern Ireland pilot has said she is heartbroken by the loss of her job at Flybe. (Tim Goode/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

A Northern Ireland pilot has said she is heartbroken by the loss of her job at Flybe. (Tim Goode/PA)

A Northern Ireland pilot who worked for Flybe for 14 years said she was "heartbroken" at the collapse of the airline.

Judith Watt spent nine years as a captain with the airline. She said it will be difficult to find a new job due to a lack of demand for flights for most airlines because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The pilot, who lives close to Belfast City Airport, said she was "very sad" on hearing the airline had ceased operations after going into administration on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Watt said staff were aware of long trading difficulties.

"We knew there were troubles but we always had faith and hope it would come good in the end. It's like a death in the family, you wake up and say what am I going to do?

"It was obvious - there was a moment where we could see this was all over for us," she said.

Where do I find a new job? Do I sign on?


She said she was left to ponder what the future may hold as the reality of redundancy sets in.

She asked: "Where do I find a new job? Do I sign on?

"Mortgage and bills need paid and we're not getting paid this month. It's making sure I can look after my family and provide for them even though I'm not going to be getting the paycheck I'd be used to," she said.

After being forced to explain to daughter Zoe that her mother no longer has a job, Ms Watt said she always had faith that Flybe's head office would resolve the situation.

"This morning I explained to her that mummy doesn't have a job anymore. The implications of that would be some of the things we do in life might have to change for a little while.

"My job was to go in and operate the flight safely on time. What they were doing in head office is not where my concerns were. I always had faith in them, I always believed that when they said things were going to be alright that they were. What else could you do?"

Ms Watt said the news has been particularly difficult for some staff who received the news on Wednesday and had to fly back to their home base while dressed in Flybe uniform.

"We have group chats within the company and some of them were saying we're not getting fuel. We were waiting and watching the planes land to see that everybody got home. some people didn't and had to make their way home [on Thursday], which is obviously very uncomfortable in their uniforms," she said.

I'll probably get to anger eventually if I can't find a job.

Ms Watt said her emotions will turn depending on her job prospects in the coming weeks.

"I'll probably get to anger eventually if I can't find a job - which will be difficult because what with the coronavirus most airlines aren't recruiting at the minute," she added.

She lives close to the airport and said it will be difficult having to drive past where she used to work with colleagues she described as "a big family in a brilliant place to work".

"Hopefully I'll drive to it again very soon, that will be the ideal situation but if I have to I guess my heart will give a little twinge every time I go past it," she said.

Belfast Telegraph