Bidders sought for €17m Donegal-Dublin air route

The new route is expected to see a minimum of two return flights on a daily basis
Bidders sought for €17m Donegal-Dublin air route

The Donegal-Dublin route was one of many axed with immediate effect after the collapse of regional carrier Stobart Air in early June. File photo

The Department of Transport has published a new €17m contract for the re-establishment of Donegal’s air link with Dublin from early next year.

The new tender for the public service obligation (PSO) route between the regional airport and the capital is aimed at signing up a supplier carrier on a three-year contract.

The new route is expected to see a minimum of two return flights - at least one early morning from Donegal and one late evening from Dublin - capable of handling 120 passengers in total, on a daily basis.

The Donegal-Dublin route was one of many axed with immediate effect after the collapse of regional carrier Stobart Air in early June, leaving 480 people unemployed. Many of those routes, including Dublin/Belfast to Edinburgh and Manchester were subsequently given replacement stopgap schedules.

However, the Donegal route, together with flights between Kerry Airport and Dublin, had been left dormant in the immediate aftermath of Stobart’s collapse as the Government wrestled with how best to relaunch the PSO slots.

In early July, budget carrier Ryanair signed up to provide the Kerry routes on a commercial basis until January 2022, with the possibility of a further extension. Swedish carrier Amapola Flyg, meanwhile, agreed to fly the publicly-subsidised Donegal route until the end of the current contract in January of next year.

The actual deadline for implementation of the new routes is February 26, 2022.

The new tender from the Department of Transport incorporates a ban on fares greater than €80 for 80% of passengers in a given month.

Stobart Air had terminated its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, ceased operations and appointed a liquidator with immediate effect late on Friday, June 11.

The airline blamed a failed takeover and the ongoing effect of the Covid-19 pandemic for its “unavoidable and difficult” decision.

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