FlyBE, a British discount airline has an interesting contract with the Norwich airport. Apparently they have to hit certain target numbers of passengers or they pay more for their landing slots and other services in Norwich. In fact, they need to serve 15,000 passengers from each of three cities to get a GBP280,000 (~US$560,000) credit – or avoid a similar charge. And they need to hit that target by today. They’d already well surpassed 15K passengers on two routes, and they had 14,828 on the route between Norwich and Dublin. With 172 passengers needed to make up the difference they did what any reasonable person would do – they paid them. The airline went out and offered to pay a bunch of folks to fly back and forth, for about 30-40 Pounds each, in order to get their passenger numbers over the threshold. On top of being paid to fly back and forth, the “passengers” are being offered open bar on the flight. That should end well.
Of course the folks at the Norwich airport authority are unhappy about the prospect of not getting the money back, and they are now claiming that the paid passengers should be considered as employees and therefore not count towards the 15K target. I tend to agree with the airport in this case.
With a little bit of foresight from the revenue management group it wouldn’t have been too hard to offer up a 1 Euro fare and get a bunch of people to bite. But with the short time frame that FlyBE had to deal with, that was no longer viable. If they end up losing the 280K GBP over this it is going to be one very expensive mistake.