Five questions answered on airline Flybe’s plan to slash 500 jobs

What has been the reaction to the job losses?

Exeter-based Flybe has announced it will be cutting 500 jobs; this is despite reporting a return to profit. We answer five questions on the airlines decision.

Why is Flybe cutting jobs?

It appears to be part of the company’s plan to make £40m of savings this year and £45m in 2014-15. The company said the new round of job cuts, which follows 300 announced in January, will save Flybe £7m this year and £26m next year.

How many people does the company employ?

Flybe employs 2,700 staff. It cut 490 jobs in 2012-13, with a further 100 going in the first half of 2013-14. Flybe chief executive Saad Hammad, told the BBC he could not say where the job losses would fall at this stage. "We're consulting with unions and our staff," he said.

What has been the reaction to the job losses?

Pilot's union, Balpa, told the BBC it was "shocked" by the decision to cut jobs.

What else has Flybe said?

"Unfortunately there is a proposal for further redundancies," Hammad told The Telegraph. "We will consult with the trade unions and employees to ensure that this is done fairly and delivers the right outcome for the business. "We will make Flybe the best local airline in Europe. This is ambitious, but achievable provided that we can transform our cost base and efficiency now."

What pre-tax profits has Flybe reported?

The company’s pre-tax profits were up £13.8m for the six months to 30 September, compared with a loss of £1.6m a year earlier. Its revenue rose 3 per cent to £351.1m and the company said it saw a 5.6 per cent increase in passengers in the period to 4.3m, and the average revenue per scheduled seat had risen slightly to £50.35.

A Flybe aircraft takes off from the Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.