Collapsed airline Flybe will return to skies - but not from Exeter

Flybe went into administration in 2020. Credit: PA images

Collapsed airline Flybe, formerly based in Devon, has announced that its planes will return to the skies early next year.

The regional carrier also revealed that it will be based in Birmingham, and so far there is no indication that it will return to the South West.

Flybe went into administration in March 2020 with the loss of 2400 jobs - 400 of which were in Exeter.

Its collapse was blamed on the coronavirus pandemic which, according to sources at the time, "made a difficult situation worse" for the airline.

It was based in Exeter but had a major presence at several other UK airports such as Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester and Southampton, and flew the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.

It also operated flights out of Cornwall Airport Newquay.

400 people lost their jobs from Exeter when the airline collapsed.

The Flybe business and its assets were purchased in April this year by Thyme Opco, which is linked to US hedge fund Cyrus Capital. Thyme Opco has been renamed Flybe Limited.

Flybe said the opening of its headquarters in Birmingham is expected to create approximately 200 new jobs in the Birmingham and West Midlands region over thenext three years.

The airline's chief executive Dave Pflieger said: "We are thrilled to be partnering with Birmingham Airport (BHX), the City of Birmingham, and the Mayor of West Midlands to make BHX the location of our new headquarters and first crew base.

"It was an ideal choice for us due to its great people and highly skilled workforce, its central UK location, and the fact that Birmingham Airport is a global travel hub where local and connecting customers have access to over 150 worldwide destinations."

He added: "We plan to provide more information in the coming weeks and months about ticket prices, new routes and destinations, and other important news that will help customers visit loved ones, get away for a weekend, and get out on business trips."

Exeter's Chamber of Commerce said it is "extremely disappointed" that the airline has chosen not to partner with Exeter Airport for its return.

Paul Nero, board director, said: "The Chamber is extremely disappointed to learn that the airline has not chosen to partner with Exeter Airport, Flybe’s natural home for its headquarters.

"We have an experienced pool of qualified and skilled people in the aviation sector here in Exeter. We hope that they will be considering applications from former Flybe Exeter staff who may want to apply.

"Additionally, given the importance of Exeter as a business and cultural destination, and it being the gateway to the country’s most attractive holiday destination we hope that they’ll schedule flights from Exeter.

"Flybe has a loyal customer base here in Devon and we’re sure they’d love to get back on Flybe flights from Exeter.”