The First Minister will be aware that Flybe has gone into administration, which has unfortunately left passengers having to make alternative arrangements, with no certainty that they will be reimbursed. Beyond that are the staff of Flybe, who this morning found themselves without a job, through no fault of their own.
What engagement has the Scottish Government had with the airline about the kind of support that will be made available to those staff?
I share Gail Ross’s sentiments about the collapse of Flybe. In particular, I echo her comments about the staff; my thoughts are very much with all the employees. We understand that Flybe has around 300 direct employees at its bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. However, my thoughts are with everybody who was employed by Flybe.
The Scottish Government will do everything that we can to support employees. If employees are facing redundancy, we will provide support through our partnership for continuing employment initiative. We hope that other airlines will seek to employ former Flybe staff.
I want to say a word or two about the broader impact, which Paul Wheelhouse touched on before First Minister’s questions. We are hoping that connectivity will be maintained by other airlines. For example, Loganair will move to operate several former Flybe routes, including connections to Manchester, Belfast and Southampton. I know that it plans to start operating those routes as soon as possible. Later this month, easyJet will begin new routes between Edinburgh and Birmingham and between Glasgow and Birmingham.
It is important to stress that no Scottish island routes are affected, as those routes are operated by Loganair and not by Flybe. The Aberdeen to Wick route has been mentioned. It is operated by Eastern Airways, although it was under a franchise agreement with Flybe. Eastern Airways has confirmed that it intends to continue to operate the route.
It is a serious situation, particularly for the staff. The Scottish Government will continue to do everything that we can to support them.