Update: Flybe boss reveals more details of job cuts in Exeter
More details have emerged of the likely impact on Flybe staff in Exeter of a turnaround plan unveiled by the airline this morning.
Around 300 jobs are being cut across the UK as Flybe targets a return to profitability, including about 95 posts in Exeter.
The Express & Echo has learned that around 45 per cent of the roles under threat in Exeter are managerial and head office posts, with engineers making up the rest.
In a conference call with journalists, Flybe chief executive Jim French said those staff affected are likely to leave the business "in a matter of months", subject to consultation with unions.
He also suggested increased automation of check-in procedures could lead to reduced staff numbers at airports across the UK.
Following the recent transfer of its Exeter-based call centre staff to Sitel, Flybe is exploring options for outsourcing more non-core functions, including catering, ground services and maintenance.
But Mr French stressed that its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Exeter remains an integral part of the company's future plans, adding that servicing aircraft for other airlines is seen as a potential growth area.
Mr French is preparing to hand over the reins to a new chief executive – due to be appointed within the next two months – but will continue to serve as Flybe's non-executive chairman.
He admitted having "mixed emotions" about having to announce large scale redundancies for the first time in 30 years, but added: "Quite simply we have a responsibility to staff and to shareholders to make sure this business survives and goes forward."
He also revealed that Flybe's executive directors have agreed to forfeit a month's salary this year in a show of solidarity with staff affected by the cost-cutting drive.
"It's very important to us that we are seen across the company to share the burden," he said.
Flybe is expected to post a £15m loss for the current financial year and aims to break even in 2013/14 before returning to profit.
As part of the first phase of its turnaround plan, the airline is streamlining its operational structure into two divisions: Flybe UK, its core scheduled airline business, and Flybe Outsourcing Solutions, comprising contract flying for other airlines and other services, such as training and maintenance work.
Flybe UK will continue to be headed by Andrew Strong, while Mike Rutter, currently managing director of Flybe Europe, will take charge of the new Flybe Outsourcing Solutions division.
Renewing his attack on the Government's air passenger duty regime – which sees passengers flying within the UK pay the tax on both legs of their journey, while those travelling overseas only pay once – Mr French said: "We understand British Airways and Easyjet pay around six per cent of ticket revenues in tax, whereas we pay 18 per cent.
"If APD accounted for six per cent of our ticket revenues, we would pay £40m a year less in tax, so we would be making a substantial profit and we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today."