Flybe, photo Aero Pixels/CC

Flybe, photo Aero Pixels/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Scott Jones

Troubled Airline Flybe – which provides domestic flights in the UK – has been saved for now. The airline connects about eight million passengers a year from airports in the UK’s major cities to isolated communities in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Cornwall and also Europe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will cut air passenger duty on domestic flights as part of a plan to save the airline from collapse. By applying the move to the whole industry, the government would avoid breaching EU state aid rules.

He said it was “not for government” to step in and save companies that run into trouble.

But government stepping in and nationalising Flybe and other companies to save jobs and services is exactly what it should be doing! And the government should ignore the EU’s state aid rules to do so.

Boris has claimed that, in his opinion, Brexit means the UK won’t be bound by the anti-nationalisation rules anymore. So let’s get nationalisation done!

The reality is that Boris doesn’t want to leave his big business mates who own Flybe out of pocket. Flybe is owned by Virgin and its consortium partners Stobart Air, plus US investment firm Cyrus Capital.

They bought the airline less than a year ago amid much fanfare and promises of a £100-million investment. Where is this money now?

Flybe should be taken out of the hands of the profit makers who can’t be trusted with our jobs and services – and government subsidies which some routes receive! It should be run under democratic workers’ control and management as part of an integrated, expanded transport system including affordable rail services – a democratically planned system that could save jobs, connections to remote areas of the UK as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Virgin and co should not be given a free ride and tax cuts should not be used to bail out Flybe. Nationalisation is the answer.