Anger at Government as Flybe collapse threatens thousands of jobs and the future of several regional airports

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has gone bust, with operations ceasing immediately Credit: Tim Goode/PA

Unions and politicians have reacted with fury over the collapse of Flybe just weeks after the company narrowly avoided going under.

A drop in demand caused by the coronavirus “made a difficult situation worse” for Flybe and despite crisis talks on Wednesday, no deal could be agreed.

The end of the Exeter-based airline will threaten thousands of jobs and the future of a number of regional airports.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “Unite members and the entire staff at Flybe will be feeling angry and confused about how and why the airline has been allowed to collapse.

“It is simply outrageous that the Government has not learned the lessons following the collapse of both Monarch and Thomas Cook that the much-promised airline insolvency review has still not materialised.

The departure board at Belfast Airport: Flybe's collapse will affect many regional airports. Credit: PA

“While other European countries are able to introduce measures to keep airlines flying when they enter administration, the UK remains unable or unwilling to do so.

“The UK economy is highly dependent on a viable and supported regional airline and airport network. For central government not to support and nurture this, especially as we deal with the twin uncertainties of the Covid-19 virus and the changes that will come with Brexit, is unhelpful and irresponsible."

Two Conservative MPs in the South West expressed their disappointment and concern at the impact on Exeter and Southampton Airports, where Flybe operated a majority of flights.

West Dorset MP Chris Loder said he was "very sorry about the inevitable job losses" and said South West would be greatly impacted by the airline's collaspe.

“Exeter Airport is crucially important to the South West, a region that in so many ways has been left to trail behind the rest of the UK when it comes to transport links.

“It is vital to those working and living in West Dorset and neighbouring East Devon, enabling them to travel onwards to domestic and European destinations, whether on business or pleasure."

Flybe's collaspe will impact the South West, MPs say. Credit: PA

Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision.

“It is essential other operators now come forward to take over routes from Exeter Airport to secure jobs and lifeline transport links for our region,” he said.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the loss of Flybe would cause “real anxiety” throughout the country.

He said: “Flybe has provided critical connectivity for many locations throughout the country, especially where there is currently no realistic transport alternative other than flying.

“The Government has to answer how those vital links will be maintained following Flybe’s collapse. Communities will be concerned about what this will mean for their local economies and the Secretary of State has to come up with answers to these questions as a matter of urgency.”