FlyBe to review slots at East Midlands Airport as it axes 300 workers
A BUDGET airline is to cut 300 jobs and review its operations at UK airports, including East Midlands, as part of a drive to return the business to profit.
Last year, Flybe increased its presence at the Castle Donington airport, when it started operating to Amsterdam, Paris and Jersey. But in recent years, the Exeter-based airline has been making losses and it is now planning to axe 10% of its UK-based staff in an attempt to reduce costs by £35 million.
The carrier will also outsource support services such as on-board catering and aircraft maintenance.
The job cuts will affect staff in support functions such as human resources and IT. It is also putting its network of 13 UK bases under review, including East Midlands Airport.
It said it did not expect to close any of its bases but was implementing cost-reduction plans with suppliers such as airports and maintenance providers, rolling out fuel-efficiency programmes and expanding automation at the check-in process.
The restructuring is expected to cost £10-£12 million.
Chairman and chief executive Jim French said: "I'm extremely disappointed that many valued and hard-working colleagues may have to leave the organisation.
"It's a decision the board and I have not taken lightly. It's one we have tried to avoid and it is the first time in almost 30 years of business that we have had to take such action.
"While recognising the impact this will have on many of our staff, we will make every effort to minimise the impact and to offer support wherever possible in the transition."
The airline reported an annual loss of £6.4 million in the year to March 31, 2012. And in November, the company reported half-year pre-tax losses of £1.3 million, blaming a combination of reduced passenger numbers, tax increases and fuel prices hitting a record high.
Flybe decided to increase its presence at East Midlands Airport after the demise of low-cost operator BMI Baby.
It ceased operations after parent company International Airlines Group was unable to find a buyer for it.
Flybe stepped in to take on the running of three former BMI Baby routes – Amsterdam, Paris and Jersey. In total, it operates five routes from East Midlands.
Yesterday, the airline issued an interim management statement, covering the final three months of 2012.
It reported a 17.2% increase in group sales, to £193.9 million, which was driven primarily by Flybe Finland, Flybe's joint venture with Finnair.
Out of that figure, Flybe UK delivered sales of £137.1 million, which was up 2.5% on the same period last in 2011-12.