Passengers stranded as regional carrier Aer Lingus Stobart Air goes into liquidation
Nearly 500 employees have lost their jobs and thousands of passengers face uncertainty after a regional airline closes. Dublin-based Stobart Air has ceased all operations as of today and appoints a liquidator.
The airline provided a busy network of flights bearing the Aer Lingus Regional name.
Travelers booked on a dozen flights to and from Belfast City Airport were grounded. Services from Northern Ireland Airport to Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leeds Bradford and Manchester are all canceled.
Routes between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newquay to Dublin have also been canceled, as well as Irish domestic routes from the capital to Donegal and Kerry.
Stobart Air was founded in 1970 as Aer Arran, originally serving Inishmore Island off the west coast of Ireland. It had an expanding network of regional routes in the UK and Ireland. Many links have replaced those left unserved by Flybe, which collapsed in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Like all airlines, Stobart Air had been hit hard by the pandemic and the travel restrictions involved. In April, an Isle of Man company, Ettyl, announced plans to buy the carrier, as well as the Carlisle Lake District airport. But that deal has now collapsed.
Stobart Air is part of Esken, formerly Stobart Group.
The airline announced: “Given the continued impact of the pandemic which has virtually halted air travel since March 2019 and in the absence of alternative buyers or sources of funding, Stobart’s board of directors Air must make the necessary, inevitable and difficult decision to seek to appoint a liquidator.
“The 480 employees of the airline have been informed.
“Last April, Stobart Air announced that a new owner had been identified. However, it appeared that the financing to support this transaction is no longer in place and the new owner is now unable to complete the transaction. “
Aer Lingus issued a statement attributing the failure to Stobart Air making “hardly any flights since March 2020”. He added: “Aer Lingus apologizes to customers for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation on such a short notice of all flights operated by Stobart Air.
“Aer Lingus is now communicating with customers to inform them of their refund or rebooking options. “
A Belfast City Airport spokesperson said: “We were informed by Aer Lingus this morning that Stobart Air, which operated the Aer Lingus Regional franchise, had ceased operations.
“As a result, Aer Lingus flights to and from Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, East Midlands and Birmingham have been canceled.
“The Aer Lingus Heathrow service is not affected and is still operating.
“We apologize to our passengers for this inconvenience and are working with Aer Lingus to ensure these routes are back up and running as soon as possible.
“Passengers booked on these flights do not have to go to the airport but should contact Aer Lingus instead.”
Belfast City was hit hard by Flybe’s collapse 15 months ago. The carrier accounted for seven out of ten passengers and eight out of ten flight movements.
Airline timetable analyst Sean Moulton said: “The airport must rebuild its network again after the loss of its largest airline. But this time, the airport has existing partners who could help take over its network.
Airlines, including Loganair, offer “rescue fares” to help passengers make their journeys.
The Scottish transporter tweeted: “If you have booked a flight operated by Stobart Air, Loganair will offer a rescue fare on all its routes to and from Belfast City of £ 60 one way, including checked baggage to allow you to travel on one of our flights to and from Belfast City. complete your journey. “