East Devon's Leader signs up to open letter backing the regional airline

Civic leaders have signed an open letter backing Exeter-based airline Flybe and recognising the important contribution the company makes to the local economy.

The move comes as Flybe announced disappointing financial results this morning on the Stock Exchange.

Flybe is the largest independent regional airline in Europe and carries eight million passengers a year between 81 airports.

The airline employs 1,000 people at Exeter Airport including high value aviation and engineering roles. Two-thirds of passengers at Exeter Airport fly with Flybe.

The letter, signed by the leaders of Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Devon County Council, Exeter College and the Heart of the South West LEP acknowledges the role Flybe plays as one of the largest businesses and employers in the area.

The letter says:

Our evidence reveals that the Airport and aviation sector currently contribute circa £150m of GVA every year to the local economy.

We are keen to ensure that this contribution continues to develop in to the future.

The letter recognises the importance of the airline to local companies, connecting business travellers to key business hubs both nationally and in Europe.

In recent years there has been significant investment in hangar facilities and the Training Academy, helping to create high value local jobs.

We want to develop the concept of an aviation skills escalator to ensure that local people have the necessary skills to support the airport’s growth.

The letter also mentions recent work to improve the road and transport network around the Airport to make it easier for passengers to access facilities.

In summary, we want to have both a thriving Airport and Airline locally. We stand ready to work with you to further develop the importance of the aviation sector to the locality and to ensure that local people and businesses alike can benefit from this. 

Cllr Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s Leader, said:

Flybe is a major employer in East Devon, carrying over 60% of the passengers who travel from Exeter Airport. Together with our partners, we will continue to work with Flybe to support local employment and maintain the year on year growth in passenger numbers achieved over the last six years.

We are already supporting improvements to the bus service serving the Airport and, through the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone programme, developing a project to further improve the road infrastructure.

This will build on public investment in training and engineering facilities already made at the Airport.

The letter is signed by Cllr Thomas and Exeter City Council Leader, Cllr Pete Edwards; Devon County Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Rufus Gilbert; Exeter College Principal & Chief Executive, John Laramy and Heart of South West LEP Chair, Steve Hindley.