11/03/2020

Flybe Workers To Rally At Stormont

Flybe workers will today hold a rally at Stormont to demand government intervention to secure their jobs.

A trade union has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to defend the long-term connectivity of Belfast, including the now under-threat roles at Belfast City Airport.

Belfast City Council this week voted unanimously for Stormont to establish a public service company that will safeguard regionally-significant connections.

The airline, which collapsed into administration last Thursday, operated 80% of the domestic flights from the site.

Negotiations are underway to replace the service, with Scottish airline Loganair and Eastern Airways so far having stepped in to fulfil three routes.

The Unite union revealed on Monday that baggage handlers and check-in staff employed by Swissport are facing a two week "temporary lay-off" period after the company proposed a 14 day unpaid stand-down.

Now, Unite Regional Officer George Brash said any airlines wanting to take on routes from Belfast City must commit to basing themselves at the airport and taking on all original flight paths.
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"Flybe's collapse resulted in a workforce here of 190 being made redundant overnight and posed a direct threat to the long-term sustainability of Belfast City Airport. The airport plays a critical role in securing the economic connectivity of the metropolitan area. It also accommodates vital organ transit, the transportation of patients for medical treatment and allows family members to stay connected," Mr Brash said.

"The Airport Authorities and Stormont must ensure that any airline wanting to take on routes, does not cherrypick but commits to take them all on and establish a base at the airport. That's the only way to guarantee regional connectivity and secure jobs.

"In the absence of such an outcome, then the Northern Ireland Executive must establish a public service airline to safeguard routes and base itself at Belfast City Airport. Many airlines elsewhere in the world are run on a public service basis – why not here? Indeed the case for this approach was recognised by Belfast City Council last night (Monday 09), when councillors across the spectrum were moved by the plight of the workers to vote unanimously for a public service airline to be established. We now need to see that translate into action both in Stormont and Westminster.

"In the days ahead workforce reps will be heading to London to ensure that their interests are not neglected and at 2pm tomorrow (Wednesday 11) Flybe workers and their families will be gathering at Stormont to highlight the need for urgent action to secure jobs and connectivity."



(JG/CM)

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