Published on June 12th, 2021 | by Alan Dwyer0
Aer Lingus to Operate Replacement Services on Stobart Routes
Aer Lingus will start to operate some of the routes that have been lost by the suspension of services by Stobart Air who operated the Aer Lingus Regional franchise. Stobart Air operated twelve routes from Dublin and Belfast on routes to the UK and the Irish Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes from Dublin to Kerry and Donegal. The services from Dublin to the UK provincial airports have not yet returned following the pandemic. Stobart Air also had aircraft based in Cork but these services have also yet to return.
Initially, Aer Lingus will use their Airbus A320’s from the mainline fleet to operate from Belfast City Airport to Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Aer Lingus has said in a statement that these routes will be operated for a week to allow for longer-term plans to be put in place. BA Cityflyer will operate two routes from Belfast City to Exeter and Leeds Bradford. The PSO routes will not return in the near future but plans for these are still being determined.
Loganair has offered to repatriate any passengers stranded with a special fare available of £60 on routes to Belfast City Airport. Ryanair also offered a £40 rescue fare for stranded Stobart Air passengers.
It was announced in late 2020 that a new start-up airline, Emerald Airways, was the preferred bidder for the Aer Lingus Regional franchise which will start in January 2023. Then in a further blow to the business, it was announced in April that an Isle of Man based company, Ettyl Ltd. was to acquire Stobart Air from its owners Esken, however, this has fallen through in recent days after Ettyl failed to acquire the necessary finance.
The majority of the Stobart Air fleet remained parked at Belfast City Airport on Saturday with two positionings from Kerry and Donegal to Dublin for parking. The fleet of ATR aircraft will be returning to the leasing companies in the coming days with some going to Mönchengladbach in Germany with others to Billund in Denamrk.
All airports served by Stobart Air flights have asked passengers not to show up unless they have been given a confirmed reservation on another flight. While Stobart had nearly 500 employees, many more are likely to be affected if services do not return to the PSO routes in the short term. The Trade Union Fórsa has called on the Government to “wake up to the ongoing crisis in Irish aviation” following Stobart’s cessation of operations.