Flybe cancels flights

LONDON (BBC News): Regional airline Flybe has cancelled dozens of Wednesday morning flights as it enters discussions over potential job losses.

The company blamed an industry-wide shortage of pilots for the delays, as well as its own pilots taking holidays. Flights from Belfast City Airport and Birmingham are among those affected. Most of the flights are within the UK.

The airline said it would like to “sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused”.

The discussions over jobs are at an early stage and the company will try and avoid job losses by filling internal vacancies with existing staff, including roles at other bases, Flybe’s chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener told 5 live.

The company is “engaging with all impacted crew”, she said.

Of the delays, she said the company would “follow all the rules of compensation” and that “we are expecting to go back to normal operation as soon as possible”.

While the disruption was widespread, it only affected 5% of flights, she insisted.

Cardiff Airport boss Deb Barber said: “We understand Flybe is in the process of consulting with a number of its employees, including its crew at multiple bases across its network, which includes Cardiff.

“Flybe’s plan to restructure and reduce its jet operations across many bases is part of the company’s long-standing objective to stabilise the business,” she said.

The cuts will affect Doncaster and Exeter, as well as Cardiff, as the company seeks to drop expensive jets in favour of cheaper turboprop routes.

Sue Piercey, who lives in Bradford, told the BBC her flight from Leeds to Belfast today was cancelled.

“We received a curt email at 19:00 last night followed by an even shorter text message,” she said. “No other flight options were offered.”

Flybe are scheduled to fly three later services from Leeds to Belfast today, and none were offered to Ms Piercey, she said.

“Our holiday is totally off now, and I hope my insurance company can help me,” she said, describing herself as “very annoyed today”.