Editor’s comment: Deal or no deal

Regional Gateway editor Chloë Greenbank summarises the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

With MPs voting against all options put to the House of Commons to find a way forward for Brexit earlier this week, Britain is facing the edge of the abyss, with a no-deal scenario looking increasingly, albeit terrifyingly, like a very possible outcome.

While speakers and regional airline representatives at last week’s European Regions Airline Association (ERA) conference in Prague were of the view that there is no need to panic and it is about being prepared, there is no denying that stakeholders in Europe’s aviation sector are on high alert.

The problem for airports is that there is little they can do at this point other than participate in lobbying and spectate. Their voice has little outcome on the final negotiations.

But with all the uncertainty regional and smaller airports are facing thanks to Brexit, it’s a double blow when airlines such as WOW Air cease operations.

Offering flights to more than 20 destinations across Europe and North America, the low-cost carrier (which ceased operations on 28 March) is the latest in a series of low-fare and regional carriers to close their doors, following Flybmi and Germania earlier this year.

And, on Wednesday 3 April, Flybe cancelled dozens of flights from Belfast and Birmingham airports as it entered discussions over potential job losses.

Christine Ourmieres-Widener, Flybe’s CEO, told reporters that the disruption had only affected 5% of flights and that the company hoped to resume “normal operations as soon as possible.”

She did, however, warn that “Flybe’s plan to restructure and reduce its jet operations across many bases is part of the company’s long-standing objective to stabilise the business.”

Proposed cuts will affect Doncaster, Norwich and Exeter, as well as Cardiff, as the company seeks to drop expensive jet operations in favour of cheaper turboprop routes.

Brexit or not, the aviation landscape is changing and this is certainly no time for airports to be resting on their laurels.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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