Deputy wants answers about contingency plans for Flybe
AN URGENT question will be asked in the States to see if the island has contingency plans after reports that Flybe was holding rescue talks with the UK government.
It will be asked by Dawn Tindall, who was not impressed by the Committee for Economic Development’s response to media reports that the airline was at risk of going into administration.
Economic Development said in a statement that it was in contact with Flybe, and has a long-standing meeting scheduled with CEO Mark Anderson for next week.
‘However at this moment in time the committee has no further comment on the news, which is currently speculation and rumour, as reported in the UK media,’ a spokesman said.
Deputy Tindall was not convinced by the response.
‘The statement from Economic Development wasn’t urgent or reassuring. I was not expecting great detail but I consider it inappropriate considering how important our air links are.’
She believed questions should be asked before the scheduled meeting with Mr Anderson.
‘We should have a dialogue and access to people. It should not just be business as usual.’
Deputy Tindall would have liked to put a number of urgent questions to both the presidents of Economic Development and the States’ Trading Supervisory Board at this week’s States’ meeting, but is only permitted to ask one due to the rules of procedure surrounding late questions.
The question to Economic Development focuses on contingency planning and whether another airline could adopt key routes should Flybe fail.
It is less than a year since Flybe received a £100m. cash injection.
Mr Anderson, told staff that he and the management team were focused on turning the airline around.
The initial report from Sky News claims that Big 4 accountancy firm Ernst & Young is waiting in the wings to process the group’s administration if rescue talks fail.
Flybe was purchased by the Connect Airways consortium, comprised of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners, for £2.2m. in January last year, after a combination of higher fuel costs, currency fluctuation and weaker demand for short-haul travel eroded profits.
Connect Airways pledged a £100m. investment to turn around the ailing company’s fortunes and intended to rebrand it Virgin Connect.
Flybe employs 2,000 people. The company is reportedly considering redundancies at its Exeter headquarters, although it is believed pilots and cabin crew would emerge unscathed.
The airline did not say how many members of staff it employed in Guernsey.
The company has dismissed all reports as conjecture.
‘Flybe continues to provide great service and connectivity for our customers while ensuring they can continue to travel as planned. We don’t comment on rumour or speculation.’
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with whom Flybe are allegedly holding talks, referred to reports as speculative.
Flights operated as normal yesterday but it is not clear whether travellers would receive refunds should the company enter administration.
Flights would likely be cancelled and while those booked as part of a package would probably be protected under the Atol scheme, other passengers might struggle to get their money back.