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Flybe Academy moves into public ownership

Devon County Council buys building

A giant, high-spec building near Exeter Airport built by Flybe at a cost of £12 million ten years ago has been bought by Devon County Council.

Though glittering and impressive, the Flybe Training Academy quickly became an albatross around Flybe's neck. Its former chief executive lamented it as a symbol of the company's "bad growth" when unveiling large losses at the airline two years after chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne formally opened the centre in 2011. 

The building has been lying empty since Flybe collapsed in February this year. Now Devon County Council has snapped it up for a fraction of its original cost. It says it is "investing £4 million in the project", although property markets are in turmoil because of the coronavirus crisis, so the enduring value is in the benefits it will bring to the county. It will be used for training courses in high-tech industries  and operated by Exeter College, which was Flybe's training partner.

Devon County Council says: "The new academy will offer inspirational opportunities for the region’s young people, while also offering adults the chance to upskill or retrain into a chosen career."

John Laramy, principal of Exeter College said: “This new academy will not just provide future skills for a more sustainable Devon, it will also support us to develop skills in digital and data technologies, including building on our excellent track record of working with artificial intelligence and supporting new sectors such as robotic agriculture. This will ensure our community have the very best in education and training, and our position as a provider of education and training using cutting-edge technologies continues.

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