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Aer Lingus to operate five routes impacted by Stobart collapse

“Alternative operations” for the Dublin – Kerry and Dublin – Donegal routes are yet to be confirmed, while the remaining routes will be accommodated by other airlines.

AER LINGUS HAS announced a partial restoration of flights impacted by the collapse of Stobart Air.

All of Aer Lingus Regional flights operated by Stobart Air were cancelled today after the latter terminated its franchise agreement and ceased trading late last night.

It is now in the process of appointing a liquidator.

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

Almost 500 staff are impacted by the decision, which has sparked criticism of the government’s treatment of the airline sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aer Lingus said it will operate five of the 12 routes using its mainline.

These are:

  • Dublin – Edinburgh
  • Dublin – Manchester
  • Belfast City – Manchester
  • Belfast City – Birmingham
  • Belfast City – Edinburgh

BA City Flyer will operate the following two routes “for at least the next week”:

  • Belfast City – Exeter
  • Belfast City – Leeds Bradford

Passengers scheduled to travel on the Beflast City – East Midlands, Dublin – Glasglow, and Dublin – Newquay routes are being offered alternative flights.

“Alternative operations” for the Dublin to Kerry and Dublin to Donegal routes are yet to be confirmed.

aeroplanes-at-dublin-airport File photo of an Aer Lingus regional flight taking off at Dublin Airport. Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

These are public service obligation (PSO) routes. The Department of Transport said earlier that it was examining the implications of their cancellation. The government funds these routes to the value of roughly €7 million per year.

In a statement this afternoon, Aer Lingus said:

Teams across Aer Lingus have been working through the night progressing alternative flying operations from tomorrow to provide a service for Aer Lingus Regional customers.

“All impacted customers are being contacted directly and offered details of an alternative flight where feasible. All impacted customers also have the option of a full refund.”

“Aer Lingus wishes to apologise to Aer Lingus Regional customers who have been affected by Stobart Air ceasing operation.”

Minister for Transport Ryan described the news of Stobart Air’s collapse as “very disappointing”, with those who lost jobs “a real first on our minds” as well as passengers impacted and the wider issue of regional connectivity.

“Aer Lingus should be able to restore, particularly a lot of the UK-Ireland services, we expect to see them back straight away or fairly quickly,” he told RTÉ News this afternoon.

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Economic Recovery Plan 005 File photo of Minister Eamon Ryan. Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

“On the regional – Donegal and Kerry – it may take slightly longer to restore the services. My own department is looking at all the options.”

Stobart Air operated six routes from Dublin Airport – Kerry, Donegal, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newquay – and six from Belfast Airport – Edinburgh, Exeter, East Midlands, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester.

Siptu sector organiser Neil McGowan, said the collapse of Stobart Air put hundreds of jobs at immediate risk.

“Aer Lingus Regional through its franchise agreement with Stobart Air operated the PSO routes from Dublin to Kerry Airport and Donegal Airport,” a statement read.

These routes are of vital importance to these regional airports. It is crucial that these PSO routes are maintained and the government takes immediate steps to restore these services.

“The restrictions in place in relation to air travel in Ireland are among the most severe in Europe yet the level of support provided to the sector by the Government is significantly below that of other EU states. Over the last year, Siptu representatives have made repeated calls for significant support to be provided to the aviation sector and its workforce.”

Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly said:

“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 Department of Transport highlighted the €300m in Covid supports offered to the aviation sector this year through employment wage subsidy schemes, waiver of commercial rates, the deferral of taxes, as well as liquidity support.

Additional reporting by Cónal Thomas

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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