The collapse of regional airline Flybe has been devastating for employees who “felt they had got a new lease of life,” an MP has stated.
Flybe had solely restarted operations final April after a earlier collapse in 2020.
On Saturday morning, its administrator confirmed 277 workers have been being made redundant, together with many at Belfast City Airport.
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson stated it got here as a “total surprise and shock”.
Flybe operated 10 routes from Belfast City Airport, together with companies to Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Amsterdam.
When Flybe collapsed in 2020 it was accountable for about 80% of Belfast City Airport’s flights.
More just lately Flybe made up about 14% of flights on the airport.
The Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland (FSBNI) stated while there was various provision to most locations, these have been at occasions supplied by one airline creating considerations round monopoly provision.
In a letter to the Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris, coverage chair Alan Lowry stated: “I would urge you to engage as a matter of highest priority with your colleagues to see what role ministers might play in protecting this service to ensure effective service and competition.”
Belfast City Airport’s significance
The first flight out of Belfast City Airport after the collapse had been as a consequence of depart for Newcastle at 07:00 GMT on Saturday.
“When I spoke to the airport they told me they first heard about this at 04:30,” Mr Robinson informed BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme.
“Belfast City Airport is hugely important and very successful in Belfast terms and in economic terms,” he stated.
The airport had been in talks with the corporate about its long-term plans final week, and that was seen as a contemporary begin for Flybe, added Mr Robinson.
“It was a new beast but gave vital opportunities for those who had worked for Flybe before to get job opportunities,” he stated.
Offers from different airways welcomed
Mr Robinson reiterated that Flybe had lined a small proportion of the routes on the airport and it was participating with different airways to fill these gaps.
Overtures from Ryanair and Easyjet to Flybe – each to workers whose jobs have been in danger and to prospects whose flights had been cancelled – have been comforting, he added.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) stated it had acquired cellphone calls within the early hours of Saturday morning from frightened Flybe workers.
But the union’s chief Martin Chalk stated there have been jobs on the market.
How do I get my a reimbursement?
The Northern Ireland Consumer Council has raised considerations that Flybe was nonetheless promoting tickets the day earlier than the announcement.
“Certainly the administrators would be aware they were going to court the next day,” the council’s Richard Williams informed BBC News NI.
“That’s something we want to put to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) about how they go about dealing with things – whether they should be suspending the sale.”
Customers who paid by bank card or debit card ought to be capable to get their a reimbursement.
Regarding bank card purchases of greater than £100, prospects may use part 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, stated Mr Williams.
If a fee was lower than £100 or if passengers used a debit card, they need to contact their debit card issuer and ask for a refund.
British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair have stepped in and have stated they may present flights at a less expensive value than traditional for these routes for Flybe prospects.
The CAA has supplied a cellphone quantity and Mr Williams suggested prospects to name that, slightly than going by way of the web site, to make sure they obtain the lowered value.
The Consumer Council stated it was necessary that passengers knew their rights on the subject of compensation and help, and it pointed individuals to their web site.
The variety of Flybe workers based mostly in Belfast is regarded as about 70 however we do not have a precise determine.
It actually had not constructed again to the numbers that might have been affected by the airline’s collapse in March 2020 – and mockingly the aviation trade is in a distinct place in comparison with then.
Belfast International Airport has an enormous variety of vacancies and had a jobs truthful on Saturday.
So for the workers this time round there might be alternatives.
But Saturday’s collapse raises questions on regional travel – you want scale for an airline to be worthwhile.
When Flybe went bust final time it was advised that any worthwhile routes from Belfast could be snapped up by rivals.
One travel knowledgeable stated it was a much bigger shock that the corporate got here again in any respect.
‘Hope not misplaced’
On Saturday Belfast City Airport chief govt Matthew Hall stated his ideas have been with Flybe workers and passengers affected by the “disappointing and unexpected” information of the corporate’s collapse.
However, aviation knowledgeable David Learmount stated hope was not misplaced for Flybe.
“It doesn’t mean it cant be resurrected in the future as it’s been resurrected once before,” he informed BBC News NI.
“The industry is very shaky trying to get back up after Covid.
“It was hit more durable than almost every other trade so it might be viable as soon as the enterprise atmosphere picks up once more.”