Belfast Telegraph

Passengers vent anger after Flybe cancels Northern Ireland flights

Services: Airport departure screen
Services: Airport departure screen
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Flybe has said no flight cancellations are expected today following yesterday's disruption that saw hundreds of passengers grounded.

The airline blamed "a combination of factors" including pilot shortage, seasonality and Easter holidays.

It said: "We have now put in place a number of contingency plans to minimise future disruptions and to manage any repeat of the level of cancellations made today.

"No cancellations are expected tomorrow.

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

"Customers are advised to monitor flybe.com and our social sites for up-to-date information."

However, last night flight BE473 from Belfast to Manchester at 8.45am today was marked as cancelled.

Hundreds of travellers were affected yesterday as 10 flights were cancelled to and from Belfast City Airport.

Many passengers who were forced to miss their flights voiced their frustration.

Others with flights booked in the coming days were also left to wonder if their travel plans were secure.

Frustrated football fan Caroline Scott tweeted: "Flybe... if you cancel my flight today from Belfast to London City and I miss the first Spurs game in the new stadium... I don't know what I'll do but I'll be incredibly furious."

Unite regional officer for civil aviation George Brash said: "Unite is seeking urgent meetings with the senior management at Flybe on both a national and regional basis in order to acquire the full facts about the company's current difficulties and secure assurances over jobs.

"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.

"Unite represents more than 60 Flybe workers in Northern Ireland. We will be seeking answers and assurances for these members."

Flybe said yesterday's cancellations were not related to a base review, which will stop flights from Cardiff, Doncaster, Exeter and Norwich. It added this will not affect services in Belfast.

Flybe CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener apologised to passengers and said the airline remained committed to Belfast City Airport.

"I want to apologise as I understand the impact on our customers," she said.

"We've tried to contact all of them to try to find a way for them to be compensated or find alternative ways for them to travel."

The disruption follows the launch of the airline's summer schedule.

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

Ms Ourmieres-Widener added: "We are really committed to Belfast City Airport, we have an excellent relationship."

She said this applied to all Flybe routes in Belfast.

"Absolutely we are committed, we published our summer schedule," she added.

"It's definitely stable and we are working with the airport for the winter schedule."

The Consumer Council's Richard Williams said: "If your flight has been cancelled the airline must offer you a choice between a refund and an alternative flight. You may be entitled to assistance such as meals, refreshments, telephone calls, emails or overnight accommodation while you wait.

"Given the Flybe statement regarding the causes behind the cancellations, passengers should also be entitled to compensation under EU regulations.

"We are talking with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that passengers are fully informed of all their rights in this matter."

For the most up-to-date information on cancellations, Flybe customers should visit www.flybe.com or call 0371 700 2000.

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