Business and Economy
Civic leaders voice support for Exeter-based airline Flybe
Posted on: 14 November 2018
Civic leaders have signed an open letter backing Exeter-based airline Flybe and recognising the important contribution the company makes to the local economy.
The move comes as Flybe announced disappointing financial results this morning on the Stock Exchange.
Flybe is the largest independent regional airline in Europe and carries eight million passengers a year between 81 airports. Two-thirds of passengers at Exeter Airport fly with Flybe.
The airline employs 1,000 people at Exeter Airport including high value aviation and engineering roles.
The letter, signed by the leaders of Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Devon County Council, Exeter College and the Heart of the South West LEP acknowledges the role Flybe plays as one of the largest businesses and employers in the area.
“Our evidence reveals that the Airport and aviation sector currently contribute circa £150m of GVA every year to the local economy,” states the letter. It continues:
“We are keen to ensure that this contribution continues to develop in to the future.”
The letter recognises the importance of the airline to local companies, connecting business travellers to key business hubs both nationally and in Europe.
In recent years there has been significant investment in hangar facilities and the Training Academy, helping to create high value local jobs.
The local authorities state in their letter that they are keen for further training opportunities in the aviation industry to be developed in the area “to ensure that local people have the necessary skills to support the airport’s growth.”
The letter also mentions recent work to improve the road and transport network around the Airport to make it easier for passengers to access facilities.
“In summary, we want to have both a thriving Airport and Airline locally. We stand ready to work with you to further develop the importance of the aviation sector to the locality and to ensure that local people and businesses alike can benefit from this.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Flybe is a major local employer and Europe’s largest independent regional airline, so the announcement of its fall in pre-tax profits is a concern for the area. It’s not just the flights from Exeter that are vital to our local economy, but also the maintenance operations and training academy. Local people and businesses benefit from a successful airline on our doorstep.
“Engineering in the aviation industry is facing a skills gap and the Flybe apprenticeship scheme with Exeter College is critical in providing a skilled and qualified workforce in the area. East Devon, which is the HQ of Flybe, has the highest number of travel and tourism apprenticeships in the South West and among the highest number of engineering apprenticeships.”
The letter is signed by the following:
• Exeter City Council Leader, Cllr Pete Edwards
• Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, Cllr Rufus Gilbert
• East Devon District Council Leader, Cllr Ian Thomas
• Exeter College Principal & Chief Executive, John Laramy
• Heart of South West LEP Chair, Steve Hindley