Business and Economy

Local partners join forces to support former Flybe staff

Photo of a Flybe aeroplane

Posted on: 6 March 2020

In the wake of Flybe going into administration, local authorities and partners have joined forces to support Flybe staff affected by the announcement.

Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Exeter College and Exeter Airport are leading an urgent response group.

Flybe is estimated to be worth around £98.5 million to the local economy and provided around 1,000 jobs directly in the Exeter and East Devon area with a further 620 jobs supported by the business.

A series of job fairs are being organised, with the first set to take place at Exeter Corn Exchange next Tuesday (10 March). The event, which will be free to attend, will primarily be for those affected by Flybe going into administration, as well as supply businesses that may also be impacted.

Companies and organisations will be on hand to offer support, guidance and advice. These include Job Centre Plus, Exeter College, National Careers Service and Learn Devon. Additional job fair events are being held in Axminster on 12 and 19 March, Torquay on 13 March and Honiton on 25 March.

The Flybe Training Academy is also a key asset of the business and the authorities will be working with administrators to ensure this is retained. Immediate work on relocating staff and students is taking place and remains a primary and ongoing concern that Exeter College is working to resolve.

Efforts are underway to secure new operators for routes previously operated by Flybe, and Scottish regional airline Loganair has already taken on three routes from Exeter, with routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow due to resume later this month and Newcastle in July. Guernsey airline Aurigny will take on direct services between Guernsey and Exeter from Thursday 12 March.

The local partnership will meet with Exeter Airport next Wednesday (11 March) to build a business case to present to the Department for Transport (DfT), setting out a list of essential key routes that are crucial to the success of the Government’s national “levelling-up” agenda.

The group will also explore future opportunities at Exeter Airport including “freeport” status, competitive advantages from being part of an Enterprise Zone, and the development of innovative solutions to lower carbon aviation. Initial discussions have been held with Kelly Tolhurst MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the DfT, to make the Minister aware of the economic impact of the loss of Flybe and state the case for additional investment in Devon.

Photo of Councillor Rufus Gilbert

Councillor Rufus Gilbert

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Economy and Skills, said: “Flybe staff and other businesses that relied on the airline will no doubt still be reeling from what has happened, and it’s with them in mind that the local authorities are working together to offer urgent support. There has been some good news with Loganair and Aurigny taking up routes and we will hope for further similar announcements which may provide job opportunities. We need businesses to tell us which routes they consider to be absolutely vital to help inform the business case that we’ll be calling for the DfT to support.”

Councillor Ben Ingham, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “Flybe was the largest private sector employer in East Devon and our first concern is for all the people who have been affected by the collapse of the company. I am very pleased that we have been able to work with our partners, quickly putting together a programme of events to help people in this way. More widely, we will engage with Government to ensure that a package of support helps the area recover from this shock and that our Airport continues to play its vital role in the local economy.”

Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk said he was devastated by the news and the Council was doing everything possible to help out with those affected.

“There are hundreds of families that will be worrying about the future, about their careers and their livelihoods. As a city, we will be there first and foremost to help them out and give them support during these difficult times.”

Rob Bosworth, Vice Principal and Deputy CEO, Exeter College, said: “After working with the Flybe Training Academy for over 10 years we were extremely sad to see the company cease trading. We are currently working to ensure that our students and apprentices, from both Flybe and those currently taught in the Flybe facility, can continue their studies with as little disruption as possible. Their education, welfare and support is our top priority.

“We are fortunate that we have excellent Exeter College staff, who deliver these programmes. Our wider support teams will ensure that all learners and staff are supported through this transition. Exeter College are fully committed to the local and regional solutions being discussed to ensure we have a thriving airport and aviation sector.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Karl Tucker, said: “Our immediate concern is for the staff of Flybe, and we’re working with our partners in the Local Authorities and employment organisations on redundancy arrangements and future employment opportunities.

“As a major employer in the Heart of the South West area, the loss of Flybe means that 1000 jobs are at risk; and in the wider context of robust regional connectivity – for which we’ve been a long-standing advocate – losing this service is a severe blow.

“We will continue to campaign for the re-balancing of our local economy following decades of under-investment in transport for the South West region, and we urge the Government to re-dress the balance in next week’s Budget and beyond in line with its Levelling-Up agenda, so that the focus is not just on the North.

“The Great South West partnership has issued a statement to this effect and to consolidate the message that improved connectivity for our area across all forms of transport can help us create transformational business opportunities and increase our contribution to the UK’s economy.”

Employers or agencies with current vacancies that may be interested taking a stand at the Exeter jobs fair event can register via eventbrite. Registration will close on Monday 9 March at 9am. Free to attend, just bring along your vacancies and a pop up promoting your business.

Upcoming job fairs:

Tuesday 10 March – Exeter Jobs Fair, Exeter Corn Exchange, 10am – 2pm.

Thursday 12 March – Axminster Jobs Fair, Pippins Community Centre, 9am-12pm.

Friday 13 March – Torquay Jobs Fair, Riviera International Conference Centre, 9:30am – 1pm.

Thursday 19 March – Axminster Jobs Fair, Pippins Community Centre, 9am-12pm.

Wednesday 25 March – Honiton Jobs Fair, Mackarness Hall, 10am-2pm.

Also – Proud to Care Health and care jobs and careers fairs 2020 (A unique opportunity to meet NHS Trusts, social enterprises, care providers, GPs and pharmacists and local education providers to find out more about jobs, courses and careers in health and care).

• Saturday 7 March, Rougemont Hotel, Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3SP (No on-site parking available): Sign up to attend in Exeter

• Saturday 14 March, Petroc College, North Devon Campus, Old Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple, EX31 2BQ (On-site parking available): Sign up to attend in Barnstaple

• Saturday 21 March, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 2HJ (No on-site parking available): Sign up to attend in Plymouth

• Saturday 28 March, Torquay Town Hall, Castle Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR (No on-site parking available): Sign up to attend in Torquay

All of the Proud to Care and care jobs and careers fairs will run from 10am to 3pm.

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