News: Flybe’s Collapse

Given Flybe’s collapse, it is worth re-reading Dr. James Dyke’s prescient article. Southampton airport’s owners (Ferrovial) will be attempting to seduce EasyJet and use this to ‘railroad’ Eastleigh Council’s approval of the runway extension that is required to profitably run the noisy, polluting A320 jets (Easy Jet does not run Turboprops). Time for a sustainable use of this airport’s land instead? If your journey is really necessary, Bournemouth (which has a long runway and not an urban airport like Southampton), Gatwick and Heathrow are not far away.

Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes claims that 1500 jobs in his constituency rely on Flybe and Southampton airport. [] Even this number of jobs would be far outstripped if the land to the east and North east of the airport could be rapidly developed (as per Eastleigh BC’s hopes) without aircraft operations interfering.

Furthermore Paul Holmes’s statement that “…1500 jobs in my constituency ..rely on Flybe and Southampton airport is highly suspect. The following analysis suggests that (at most) 1/5 of this number are Eastleigh constituents/residents.

The airport’s EIS (Chapter 6) gives the number of people directly employed at the airport as 950, 75% of whom live with the Solent LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership – which includes Eastleigh). This gives 713 jobs.

Indirectly employed :1300, 32% of whom live in the Solent LEP. This gives 416 jobs.

Induced impact: 650. As this number is calculated from the effects of the expenditure of those directly employed it is also factored by 75% to produce 488 jobs.

Therefore the total number of jobs within the Solent LEP (including supply chain) is 1617.

This would mean that if the 1500 ‘Eastleigh’ figure were to be correct only 117 jobs in the rest of the Solent LEP (including Southampton, Portsmouth etc) were ‘down’ to the airport. This is clearly not the case.

We (along with Paul Holmes) do not know the precise number of people living in Eastleigh whose employment depends on the airport. We have written to the airport asking. In the interim, we have made the following estimation:

The Solent GVA is £30.5 billion. Eastleigh’s GVA is £4.23 billion [Solent LEP report July 2019]. Taking this ratio for the employment levels gives 224 jobs with Eastleigh dependent on the airport.

No individual would want to face the prospect of enforced redundancy. However the employment benefits of the airport are again much overestimated by the airport and its supporters.

Paul Holmes MP has said that one of the sources of his information was the BBC. The BBC reports “It’s not just the 200 Flybe staff there who face an uncertain future. So too do many of the 1,000 other people whose livelihoods are at the airport.”, No mention of the number of Eastleigh constituents affected.

The following is from a report by Steer Davies Gleave for Southampton airport [2017] “Almost 200 people are employed directly by Southampton Airport, with a further 750 jobs located on the airport campus. Figure 2.1 illustrates the breakdown of these jobs by broad
Figure 2.1: Employment by employer category at the Southampton Airport campus”

This shows that airlines are included within the 950 people employed at Southampton airport not in addition.

Don’t be fooled Eastleigh BC:

Extension = Expansion

The airport’s initial PR rationale for the runway extension was that it would provide routes further afield for the hungry air-traveller as well as more frequent flights with increased passengers per flight to destinations such as Bordeaux, Malaga and Geneva. However the further afield people travel the less benefit to the Solent region. As 70% of passengers use Southampton as their point of departure, money is leaving the region and the country. Now that the UK has left the EU, none of the money spent in those destinations any longer benefits the UK. The economic benefits of the expansion scenario are grossly overstated by the airport.

Precipitated by Southampton and Winchester Councils voting to oppose the expansion, on the basis of climate change and noise, the airport has since changed tack and tried to argue that the extension is needed to keep the airport viable. SOU has shamelessly used Flybe’s collapse as a way of bullying Eastleigh BC into approving the runway extension. SOU is clearly trying its plan B: saying that ‘extension’ would not necessarily mean ‘expansion’.

Extending Southampton’s runway is only beneficial for jets such as the A320 (that EasyJet mainly uses) because an extended runway enables them to fly to maximum capacity – passengers and fuel. However there is no advantage to using A320s to fly to Manchester, Newcastle etc. – these are not the destinations that the airport wants to develop and are not the ones that are likely to fill an A320, which wouldn’t require a full fuel load to reach these destinations. The point is that A320s only yield maximum profit when carrying a full complement of passengers.

The only advantage of an extended runway is to enable tourist flights to destinations such southern Italy and Greece. Such a prospect can only make economic sense for the airport if it has a high volume of passengers. Therefore extension only makes sense in order to achieve expansion.

If an extension were to be approved, expansion will inevitably follow at some stage.

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