Northern Ireland news

Flybe workers worried about jobs future as flights cancelled

Entrance of George Best Belfast City Airport after Flybe flights at the airport were cancelled. Flybe has blamed a shortage of pilots as one of the reasons after it cancelled dozens of flights from airports around the UK on Wednesday Picture by Liam McBurney/PA
Michael McHugh

FLYBE workers in Northern Ireland are concerned about their futures, a union has said.

On Wednesday the airline cancelled 10 flights from and to George Best Belfast City Airport.

Flybe blamed a combination of factors "including seasonality, pilots' end of leave year, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry".

It said cancellations were not due to a base review, which affects four airports in Great Britain.

Unite the union's George Brash said: "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'."

The airline is to stop jet flights from Cardiff, Doncaster, Exeter and Norwich.

Mr Brash is regional officer for civil aviation in Northern Ireland.

He is seeking "urgent" meetings with senior management at Flybe on a national and regional basis to acquire full facts about the company's difficulties and secure assurances over jobs.

"Unite represents more than 60 Flybe workers in Northern Ireland – we will be seeking answers and assurances for these members,"Mr Brash said.

"We will also be seeking assurances as to the future plans for the company. Whatever comes, Unite will robustly defend our members' jobs and interests."

Flights affected include services to Birmingham, and round trips to and from Leeds Bradford and Aberdeen. A flight from East Midlands was also cancelled.

The Consumer Council said it was in talks with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure passengers are fully informed of their rights.

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

A statement by the airline said it sincerely apologised.

"Whilst 95 per cent of Flybe flights are operating as per normal, we do recognise the impact of today's cancellations.

"We are doing our best to mitigate the impact of the current situation that has arisen due to a combination of factors including seasonality, pilots' end of leave year, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry that Flybe has highlighted over recent months.

"We have already identified several mitigation actions and will be issuing further updates throughout the day.

"All those affected have been emailed and advised they can re-book for travel on an alternative flight or apply for a full refund."

Passengers received texts and emails on Tuesday evening telling them of problems with their flights.

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

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

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