Following the collapse of the regional UK airline Flybe, which is headquartered at Exeter Airport, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is taking part in an urgent response team led by Local Authorities and involving the airport, employee representatives, local businesses, educational establishments and Job Centre Plus to support Flybe employees.
A co-ordination meeting with Exeter Airport and local partners will take place next Wednesday 11 March to build a business case for backing from the Department for Transport; and to draw up an engagement plan with a clear list of the essential key routes that are crucial to the success of the Government’s nationally profiled levelling-up agenda. The group will also explore future opportunities at Exeter Airport including “freeport” status, competitive advantages from being part of an Enterprise Zones, and the development of smart aviation.
Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Karl Tucker said:
“Our immediate concern is for the staff of Flybe, and we’re working with our partners in the Local Authorities and employment organisations on redundancy arrangements and future employment opportunities.
“As a major employer in the Heart of the South West area, the loss of Flybe means that 1000 jobs are at risk; and in the wider context of robust regional connectivity – for which we’ve been a long-standing advocate – losing this service is a severe blow.
“We will continue to campaign for the re-balancing of our local economy following decades of under-investment in transport for the South West region, and we urge the Government to re-dress the balance in next week’s Budget and beyond in line with its Levelling-Up agenda, so that the focus is not just on the North.
“The Great South West partnership has issued a statement to this effect and to consolidate the message that improved connectivity for our area across all forms of transport can help us create transformational business opportunities and increase our contribution to the UK’s economy.”