Airline called on actors to fill empty seats
Budget airline, Flybe, advertised for actors to masquerade as passengers to avoid a £280,000 penalty fine for having too many empty seats.
The airline also put on extra flights, offered free trips and put its own staff on stand-by to fly in the event that seats were not filled.
Flybe placed an advert on an actors’ website for ‘extras’ to fill empty seats and warned staff to prepare to fly to Ireland.
The Exeter-based company was forced to make the desperate move after failing to reach an agreement with Norwich International Airport on the terms of a deal concerning passenger numbers.
The episode has prompted criticism from environmentalists over unnecessary flights but Flybe passed the buck and blamed airport bosses, saying they were ‘intransigent and greedy’.
The terms of the deal stated Norwich Airport would charge Flybe £280,000 if it did not fly 15,000 passengers on the Norwich to Dublin route during 2007-2008. The airline was 172 passengers short by the deadline, prompting the unusual move to commandeer actors.
Airport director, Richard Jenner, commented: ‘It doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the agreement. But more than anything our concerns are about the unnecessary impact on the environment. We try here to justify the impact we have on the environment. One of the reasons we like to have Flybe here is that they say they are also concerned about the environment.’
Flybe said it would offset additional carbon emissions and had not needed to use actors to fill seats.