'No small feat' for Exeter Airport to recover from tough year

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The owners of Exeter Airport insist it can recover from a challenging financial year.

The collapse of Devon-based airline FlyBe cost many hundreds of people their jobs and threatened the airport's future.

FlyBe flights made up the bulk of arrivals and departures at Exeter Airport.

One year on the worldwide aviation industry is reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An empty Exeter Airport Credit: ITV News

Despite a challenging year, Andrew Bell - Chief Executive of the company operating the airport - says the situation is not hopeless:

"To get back to the level it was at will probably take a little time but there's no question that there is interest from other airlines as we sit here talking now, to restore some of the key routes that Exeter and people in the region have been used to having on their doorstep.

"Obviously those plans have been sitting on ice for 12 months but we are confident that the connectivity that Exeter Airport provided to the south west is going to be restored."

The airport sits in an area which is going through a big programme of commercial development to create around ten thousand jobs.

John Hart, leader of Devon County Council says having a successful airport is "vital" to attract international business.

"Air travel will come back - we will still need jobs down here, we need people, we need holiday and trade to start again, we need Devon to come back to life, and I'm hoping from May-June that's exactly what will happen."

Arrivals at Exeter Airport Credit: ITV West Country

Flybe's training academy has now been repurposed by Exeter College as a skills centre to nurture the next generation of the aviation industry.

The site will soon add brand new air cabin crew training centre, equipment for digital training, and facilities to teach aircraft engineers.

Flybe's training academy has been repurposed by Exeter College Credit: ITV West Country