Union warns airport ‘at risk’ after Flybe collapse

GMB calls on government and councils to act.

Nats tower southampton airport

Inside Nats tower at Southampton Airport

A trade union that represents airport workers has warned that Southampton Airport is one of eight regional airports that could face closure in the wake of the Flybe collapse. The union has called on the government to intervene with financial measures and has urged Local Authorities to support airport expansion plans.

According to the union a total of 227 direct and indirect jobs could go at Southampton if it folded and there could be more jobs at risk in the wider economy A local newspaper has reported that a Southampton taxi operator, Checker Cars, has already closed for business due to ‘insufficient passengers’ at the airport.

The eight airports identified by the union are deemed at risk because more than 50% of their scheduled departures in 2019 were Flybe aircraft – at Southampton 95% of departures were by Flybe.

Operators move to pick up Northern domestic routes

The gloomy prediction comes despite news that regional operators are stepping in to pick up some of Flybe’s domestic routes.

Earlier today Loganair announced they would take on flights to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle while Eastern Airways says it plans to relaunch itself as a scheduled airline, taking over the routes it formerly operated for Flybe as a franchise – this would include flights from Southampton to Manchester and Newcastle.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, commented:

“Other airlines have said they will pick up the domestic routes in the wake of Flybe’s collapse but what is the Government going to do?

GMB is calling on the Government to step in and protect the regional airports. These hubs are vital parts of the UK economic infrastructure that communities and regional economies rely on. Without them economic disparities will widen, but now they face closure.

Those workers directly affected by the collapse of Flybe and in the supply-chain need financial support to prevent hardship and protect livelihoods.”

Houghton also called on local authorities – like Eastleigh – to support Airport expansion.

“We urgently need subsidies for socially necessary routes, funding for transport links and support for local authorities who want to develop airport plans.”

Eastleigh Borough Council – who last summer declared a climate emergency – will shortly have to rule on a planning application to extend the airport runway and to provide parking for an extra 600 cars. The application consultation attracted 700 comments – the majority of which were opposed to expansion on environmental grounds.