Ryanair and easyJet say Government was wrong to bail out Flybe

Government has agreed to defer Flybe’s £106m air passenger duty bill until the summer but Liverpool Airport’s two biggest carriers have criticised the move. Tony McDonough reports

The Government has agreed to defer Flybe’s  106m air passenger duty bill until the summer


Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s two biggest airlines – Ryanair and easyJet – have both criticised the Government rescue of regional carrier Flybe.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Government has agreed to defer Flybe’s £106m air passenger duty bill until the summer in order to avoid its collapse. It is also understood shareholders of the company have promised extra investment of £20m.

Ministers were concerned about the possible impact of Flybe’s collapse on UK regional connectivity. Flybe serves 25 UK airports and accounts for more than half of domestic flights outside London. Airports heavily dependent on its routes include Anglesey, Southampton, Belfast City, Exeter and Newquay.

It also operates to routes out of Liverpool to the Isle of Man and Guernsey as well as providing direct employment for 2,400 people as well as a further 1,400 in the wider  supply chain.

The deal was also criticised by Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, the owner of British Airways, who called it a “blatant misuse” of public funds”. He added the consortium that owns Flybe includes Virgin/Delta and the Government should not be propping up the carrier.

Now Ryanair and easyJet, who between them operate more than 60 routes out of Liverpool, have joined the chorus of criticism. Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet said: “We do not support state funding of carriers.:

And a Ryanair spokesman added: “We have already called for more robust and frequent stress tests on financially weak airlines so the taxpayer does not have to bail them out.”

The decision has angered environmentalists who say the Government should be encouraging people to take fewer flights, not more.

However, the The British Airline Pilots’ Association supported the move. It said: “The Government is to be applauded for stepping up to the plate to help one of the few remaining independent UK airlines.”

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