ISLE of Man-based airline Manx2 is planning major investments in the Irish market which will see more routes from Cork airport.
From October, the airline will be offering a service from Cork to the Isle of Man, via Galway and Belfast. It also expects to announce some new routes in the new year, possibly to Britain. Manx2 already flies to Blackpool, Cardiff, Jersey, Leeds and Newcastle.
The airline recently launched services from Cork to Galway and Belfast but it said more are planned and it is also considering routes that may be abandoned by Aer Arann, which is in examinership.
Chairman of Manx2 Noel Hayes said the Irish market has been of interest to the airline for years and they see many opportunities here.
He is expecting a restructuring of Irish aviation shortly and predicts a cut in the PSO grants offered by Government to airlines. He also expects larger airlines to discontinue some routes.
“There could be opportunities for us as a result of the changes in the PSO grants and also we expect that Aer Arann might have to restructure its business so there could be opportunities there too,” said Mr Hayes.
He said that load factors, a measurement of seats filled, on their Cork to Galway and Belfast routes have not hit the desired target yet but passenger numbers are “building on a steady basis”. Load factors are currently running at about 60% on these routes.
The airline is not interested in taking on Ryanair on the Cork to Dublin route. “We like to keep below the radar of the bigger airlines,” said Mr Hayes.
He did, however, say that he would be happy to work in co-operation with Ryanair if it wanted to reduce services. Manx2 could come in with smaller aircraft to operate some of these routes.
He said Cork-Britain routes are in “constant review” but they are watching developments on Aer Arann’s examinership.
Manx2 was established 4½ years ago and operates 19-seater aircraft.
It currently has two aircraft based in Belfast, one in Wales and four in the Isle of Man.
The airline likes to introduce one new route every six months.
It said prices on the Cork to Galway service start at €19, rising to €99 closer to the date of travel.
The airline praised Fáilte Ireland and said they are “much better than their British counterparts”.
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