UUP: Flybe 'Crucial' To NI Activity

Flybe is crucially important to the connectivity of Northern Ireland, Ulster Unionist Leader Steve Aiken has warned.

The UK Government is under pressure to save the commercial airline amid fears of the company's collapse due to rising losses.

Flybe operates 14 routes from Belfast City Airport, more than is offered by any other airline. The airline makes up for 90% of all flights from the airport.

According to union GMB, some 2,000 direct jobs and 1,400 supply chain jobs are at risk, with 150 local roles to be lost if it goes under.

Reports have emerged of crisis talks with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport to find a possible agreement for Government assistance or emergency funding to save the firm.
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UUP Leader Steve Aiken said it is imperative the airline is saved to ensure the sustained connectivity of Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK.

"Other parts of the United Kingdom can avail of road and rail links as an alternative to flights if necessary, but we in Northern Ireland do not have that option, and rely on air links to cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham," Mr Aiken said. "It is crucial that this option is maintained and that Flybe continues to serve Northern Ireland.

"It is hard to overstate the importance of Flybe to the George Best Belfast City Airport, and the airport itself is crucial to the local economy. It is incumbent on everyone to do all we can to ensure that the company receives whatever help and assistance it needs going forward."


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