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Dublin: 24°C Friday 12 August 2022

Stobart Air collapse: Staff 'devastated' after trading ceases with Aer Lingus regional flights cancelled

Stobart Air has ceased trading and is now in the process of appointing a liquidator with 480 airline staff informed of the decision.

Image: Shutterstock/Dux Croatorum

Updated Jun 12th 2021, 12:15 PM

STOBART AIR HAS terminated its franchise with Aer Lingus with immediate effect resulting in the cancellation of all Aer Lingus regional flights operated by Stobart. 

Aer Lingus said Stobart Air had cited the continuing impact of the pandemic which has resulted “in almost no flying since March 2020.

“Stobart Air has ceased trading and is now in the process of appointing a liquidator. Aer Lingus apologises to customers for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation at such short notice of all flights operated by Stobart Air,” a statement from Aer Lingus said. 

“Aer Lingus is now communicating to customers to advise them of their options for refund or re-booking,” the statement added.

Customers who were booked to travel on flights operated by Stobart Air are advised not come to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information on refund or re-booking options.

All Stobart Air flights on the following routes are cancelled:

  • Dublin
  • Kerry-Dublin
  • Donegal-Dublin
  • Glasgow-Dublin
  • Edinburgh-Dublin
  • Manchester-Dublin
  • Newquay-Belfast City
  • Manchester-Belfast City
  • Birmingham-Belfast City
  • Edinburgh-Belfast City
  • Leeds Bradford-Belfast City
  • Exeter-Belfast City
  • East Midlands

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan described the news as ‘concerning for the affected workers and for regional connectivity’.

“We will be engaging with all stakeholders today and over the comings days to restore connectivity to the regional airports affected by today’s announcement.”

The statement from his department added that the government is “acutely aware of the devastating impact that Covid-19 restrictions are having on the aviation sector and from the outset has sought to ensure that the aviation industry is in a position to rebound quickly when the public health situation allows”, adding that by the end of this month, the aviation sector will have received approximately €300 million in State funding through Covid supports.

Stobart Air, which operated Aer Lingus’ regional service, was sold to the Isle of Man firm Ettyl in April. 

In a statement this morning, Stobart Air said: “It is with great regret and sadness that Stobart Air can confirm that the Board is in the process of appointing a liquidator to the business and the airline is to cease operations with immediate effect.

This unavoidable and difficult decision means that all Aer Lingus Regional routes, currently operated by Stobart Air under its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, have been cancelled.

All 480 airline staff have been informed, the airline said. 

“Last April, Stobart Air announced that a new owner had been identified. However, it has emerged that the funding to support this transaction is no longer in place and the new owner is now unable to conclude the transaction.

“Given the continued impact of the pandemic which has virtually halted air travel since March 2019 and in the absence of any alternative purchasers or sources of funding, the Board of Stobart Air must take the necessary, unavoidable and difficult decision to seek to appoint a liquidator.

“A franchise flying partner to leading domestic and international airlines, Stobart Air has acknowledged the significant contribution, loyalty, dedication of its 480-strong team of skilled and talented aviation professionals.”

In a statement, Ettyl confirmed it is unable to conclude the transaction or to obtain alternative funding and as a result Stobart is now in the process of appointing a liquidator. 

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Trade union Fórsa called on the Government to “wake up to the ongoing crisis in Irish aviation” following the announcement that Stobart had ceased operations and is going into liquidation.

The union, which represents 120 cabin crew in the airline, along with pilots, said staff based in Dublin, Cork and Belfast were “devastated” this morning.

Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly said Stobart had been working with the union to try to navigate a path through the pandemic.

“For over a year, unions have been seeking a bespoke package of industry supports – including income supports – to ensure that Ireland has a post-Covid aviation sector,” the union said in a statement. 

“The Stobart collapse means services to Kerry and Donegal are now in the balance, just a month after Aer Lingus announced the closure of its Shannon base. Loyal and long-service Stobart staff, who have been through 16 months of financial hardship and uncertainty, are devastated this morning. The industry has effectively lost a second summer to the pandemic, with no early recovery on the horizon. What will it take for the Government to wake up and act?

“The Government needs to decide if the crisis in this vital industry is to be permanent or temporary. Only the State has the power and resources to preserve Ireland’s vital international connectivity – the connectivity that supports thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs – over the coming months, and possibly years,” said Connolly. 

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