Flybe takes a pop at Economic Development

An 8 page ‘Flybe - aren’t we wonderful’ supplement fell out of the Jersey Evening Post last night. Basically it’s an advertorial (I hate that word) supplement designed to inform us about all the new routes and destinations Flybe are serving and encourage us to fly with them more frequently.

But on the front page of the supplement, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mike Rutter could not resist taking a pop at Jersey’s Economic Development Department's policy of handing out incentives to airlines to come and fly here. Their argument is that public money is being handed out in increasingly large amounts to airlines with no accountability and no long term commitment to the island.

Of course, the recent decision by Thomsonfly to stop flying to Jersey supports their argument and to be fair, they have always been consistent about it. Thomsonfly started flights to Jersey 4 years ago – presumably attracted partly by incentives for new route development. Nobody could predict that the airline’s parent company – TUI - would acquire other airlines and rationalise their fleet to only operate aircraft that cannot land in Jersey (the reason given for their withdrawal).

Of course, there is still the Heathrow subsidy that Flybe can point to. We may never know how much has been forked out by government to secure the route, but let’s hope that BMI show greater commitment than Thomsonfly have been able to. They are facing huge increases in landing fees at Heathrow from April next year of RPI + 7.5% which will put even more pressure on the viability of the route.

In the meantime, Flybe keep on flying and the tourism industry needs to recognise their commitment to Jersey. Let’s just hope they don’t get taken over by some larger airline who would rather use their UK airport slots for more profitable routes!

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