Regional carrier Flybe has cancelled dozens of flights for Wednesday as it enters talks over possible redundancies, citing “operational reasons” for the disruption.
The cancellations affect five flights from Belfast City airport and four from Birmingham, along with departures from Southampton (four), Aberdeen (two), Edinburgh (three), Cardiff (one) and Newcastle (one). Other services have been delayed.
Flybe says the disruption comes as the airline tries 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 in recent months”.
CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener told BBC Radio 5 Live the airline is in discussions over potential job losses, but that the company hopes to avoid redundancies by filling internal vacancies with existing staff, including moving them to roles at other bases. The cuts could affect Flybe’s bases at Doncaster, Exeter and Cardiff.
The company is also further restructuring its route network in favour of cheaper turbo-prop aircraft.
According to Flybe, all passengers affected by the cancellations have been contacted and offered the chance to rebook their flights or apply for a full refund.
A report by the BBC says passengers on Flybe’s new route between Cornwall Airport Newquay and Heathrow were transported by coach after the aircraft couldn’t take off due to a “technical issue”.
The cancellation comes after Flybe was acquired by Connect Airways, a consortium made up of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital.
In the run-up to the sale, Flybe’s shareholders questioned the £2.8 million offered for the airline’s assets and operations, threatening to launch legal action against the transaction. The carrier warned that if the deal was not approved, it would have to cease flights.
The airline had been in financial trouble before putting itself up for sale, issuing a profit warning in October 2018 despite seeing an improvement in revenues owing to reduced capacity on less popular routes. It posted a loss of £19.2 million in 2017/18.