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Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Flybe confirms it will close bases and scale back operations

Flybe has confirmed it is to close two bases and scale back two more at the end of summer 2019.

Flybe issued a statement at lunchtime to say it will cease jet operations with effect from the start of the 2019-20 winter programme, with the last jet flights operating in October. The airline's 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft will continue to operate.

The airline will continue to have a base at Exeter, where Q400 aircraft will continue.

Jet operations will cease at Norwich, but services operated by Flybe's franchise partner, Eastern Airways, will continue.

However, Flybe will cease jet operations out of Cardiff and Doncaster and will then close both bases..

But it said it 'will continue to offer flights to and from both Cardiff and Doncaster on Q400 with aircraft and crew flying from other bases'.

Flybe CEO, Christine Ourmières-Widener said: "Our fleet reduction has always been core to improving our profitability. We are committed to assisting all our affected employees across the impacted Flybe bases.

"We remain fully committed to Exeter, Cardiff and Doncaster airports and will continue to offer a comprehensive choice of regional and European destinations operated by our 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft"

BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said the news was 'disappointing'.

"This will come as a shock to all staff. BALPA will be working closely with the airline to ensure pilots' jobs are protected and that this difficult process is handled as professionally as possible," he said.

The airline claims it does not intend to make any pilot redundant but will require 'directional moves' by pilots to relocate to other bases. However, it is likely that there will be redundancies among cabin crew.

Flybe said today's 'flight cancellations being experienced are not linked to this decision and are the result of a combination of other factors'.

The airline cancelled around 30 UK flights, causing major disruption for thousands of passengers flying out of regional airports.

The airline has 'sincerely apologised' for inconvenience. Initially it blamed 'operational reasons', then later explained the delays were caused by an industry-wide shortage of pilots as well as its own pilots taking holidays.

Chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener posted a video on Flybe's website, apologising for today's cancellations.

Flybe added all customers had been emailed about this morning's cancellations and advised they can book for travel on an alternative flight or get a full refund.

But customers expressed anger the emails were sent out just minutes before Flybe's call centre closed for the evening last night.

In a statement, the airline said: "Flybe sincerely apologises to all our customers and partners affected by the current flight cancellations. Whilst 95% 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.

"Customers are advised to regularly check our website for more details."

The airline was recently taken over by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group.

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