The government has confirmed it is committed to reviewing regional connectivity and Air Passenger Duty (APD) following the collapse of Europe’s largest regional carrier Flybe on Thursday (5 March).
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Thursday levelling up connectivity across the UK’s regions and nations “was a top priority for this government”. However, he said it was not the role of government to prop up carriers like Flybe, despite the role they play in the UK’s regional transport network.
Shapps said reviews of regional connectivity and APD featured in the government’s “conversations” with Flybe in January when the embattled regional carrier made a plea for state aid or tax relief.
It is understood a £100 million government loan was agreed in principle, with measures to ease the APD burden on carriers like Flybe – which often suffer a “double hit” on APD with outbound and inbound flights on many routes originating from within the UK – set to follow in next week’s budget.
In turn, said Shapps, Flybe “agreed to continue operating”. However, he said despite exploring “multiple options” with Flybe’s shareholders to find a solution, its directors “decided it was not viable to keep Flybe operating”.