Stobart looking at new routes

Stobart Air, the operator of the Aer Lingus Regional service, is actively considering adding a new route from the UK to Dublin to serve British passengers bound for the US.

Dublin and Shannon are the only two airports in Europe to offer US border/customs pre-clearance services. Currently, around 12% of Stobart Air’s network is tailored towards transatlantic connections via Ireland and the number is growing.

While a spokesperson only said that new routes are being examined, the company’s parent company – the wider UK support services business, Stobart Group – added more detail in its half-year results commentary.

Touching on its wider aviation business, and specifically Carlisle Lake District Airport, which it owns, the group said: “Planning permission has been secured for the development of the airport and we have commenced a business planning exercise designed to attract airlines, passengers and related operations to the airport.”

“In particular,” it added, “we are considering a London service and a Dublin route connecting to transatlantic destinations.”

In its results, covering the six months to the end of August, Stobart Group also expressed confidence in the medium-term growth ability of its airline business. Stobart Air – which, as well as the Aer Lingus Regional service, also operates the London-to-mainland Europe routes for European low-cost operator, FlyBe on a franchise basis – remains loss-making, but had a successful summer season with record August monthly load factors and passenger numbers, and a 14th consecutive month of growth on the Aer Lingus Regional network.

“While the airline is currently loss-making, the modest investment the group has made provides it with valuable strategic options and the board expects it to create value in the medium-term,” the group said. Management added that it can replace – partially via its FlyBe routes – any capacity reduction by rival operator, EasyJet.

Aer Arann was renamed Stobart Air in March as the airline’s majority shareholder, Stobart Group, moved to extend its aviation services (it also owns Carlisle Lake District Airport and London Southend Airport). The group, which also has infrastructure, rail, energy and logistics interests, yesterday reported a net profit of £7.6m (€9.7m) for its first half, down 19% year-on-year, with revenues rising from £48.1m to £56.2m.


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