Flybe 'hires actors' to fill planes

NORWICH airport bosses were today at war with Flybe after accusing the budget carrier of using actors to falsely bump up passenger numbers to claim a bonus.

NORWICH airport bosses were today at war with Flybe after accusing the budget carrier of using actors to falsely bump up passenger numbers to claim a bonus.

Richard Jenner, MD of Norwich International, said that he was “absolutely shocked” at the airline's money-spinning plan of using bogus passengers to fill extra flights and reach its quota, saying it was “underhand” at a cost to the environment.

As people across the globe prepared for Earth Hour Flybe chiefs admitted laying on extra flights to Dublin in a bid to reach the figures required to earn an extra £280,000 bonus from Norwich airport.

One flight on Monday will leave the airport at noon, arrive in Dublin at 1.15pm only to leave Norwich again at 2pm.

But the carrier denied that, despite offering more than 100 extras £82 each to fly from Norwich to Dublin up to three times a day over the weekend, it was using actors.

The advert, on Starnow.com, tells applicants the job is “background work for a well known airline who are updating their in-flight literature etc”.

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But Flybe, which prides itself on its environmental record on its website, failed to explain why the extras would need to actually fly to Dublin and back so many times.

It has also admitted offering extra free flights on that one route today, tomorrow and on Monday but claimed it was only to celebrate its two year anniversary, although no additional flights were laid on for St Patrick's day.

A Flybe spokesman claimed there was only one extra flight on Monday specifically laid on to entice the 172 extra passengers needed to reach the bonus deadline.

“These flights will be full of normal fare paying passengers however if we do not reach the 172 target we will place temporary staff on to the flight to reach the airports target. These temporary staff have been put on stand-by,” he said.

Mr Jenner said the move was “incredible”.

“I am absolutely shocked by this, it is beyond comprehension. I think it is staggering that an airline that prides itself on its environmental credentials could really do this.

“Why haven't they promoted this route earlier? On St Patrick's Day there were no extra flights. They could not have created a larger carbon footprint if they had tried.”

The spokesman explained that the airline had exceeded its overall Norwich airport target but was a fraction of a percentage short for the Dublin route.

Flybe suggested a reduced bonus of £230,000 but the airport only said it would offer £140,000.

The Flybe spokesman said: “Because of NIA's ridiculous, intransigent and downright greedy attitude, Flybe has been forced to lay on an extra service to Dublin.

“Their petty behaviour has left us with no choice than to follow this path.

“Flybe will 100pc offset the carbon caused by this flight and looks forward to remaining the biggest airline operating out of Norwich, even though the airports attitude to its largest customer puts this situation at risk.”

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