Aer Lingus announces details of replacement regional flights following Stobart Air's closure

Aer Lingus announces details of replacement regional flights following Stobart Air's closure

Aer Lingus has also confirmed that customers will have the option of a full refund. File Picture: PA

Aer Lingus has announced details of a replacement schedule for Aer Lingus Regional customers impacted by Stobart Air's decision to cease operations. 

The airline said that, since it was informed of its regional partner's closure,  its 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.

Of the twelve routes immediately impacted by Stobart Air’s decision, Aer Lingus has said it will operate five routes and for at least the next week, and that BA City Flyer will operate two others. 

Alternative operations for the outstanding routes, including ones through Kerry and Dublin airport's are still being determined, the airline said. 

Aer Lingus said all impacted customers were being contacted directly and will be offered details of an alternative flight where feasible. 

The airline also confirmed that customers will have the option of a full refund.

Details of the Aer Lingus regional replacement schedule are listed below: 

 

Aer Lingus (Mainline) will operate the following routes:

  • Dublin / Edinburgh; 
  • Dublin / Manchester; 
  • Belfast City / Manchester; 
  • Belfast City / Birmingham; 
  • Belfast City / Edinburgh;

BA City Flyer will operate the following routes: 

  • Belfast City / Exeter; 
  • Belfast City / Leeds Bradford 

Aer Lingus said alternative operations for flights on the Dublin / Kerry and the Dublin / Donegal routes were still being determined.

Customers scheduled to travel on the Belfast City / East Midlands, the Dublin / Glasgow and the Dublin / Newquay routes will be offered alternative flights, the airline said.

Further details and any updates to the above can be found on the Aer Lingus website

Transport Minister 'concerned' over regional connectivity 

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said his department is "immediately looking to see what the options are" around restoring regional transport connectivity following Stobart’s Air's decision to cease operations.

Stobart Air terminated its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, ceased operations and appointed a liquidator last night.

Some 480 staff at the airline, which operates 12 Are Lingus regional routes, will be impacted.

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

The regional operator said an approach by a new owner last year during the pandemic was not successful after it emerged the funding to support the sale was no longer available.

It apologised to customers for the inconvenience that the cancellation of flights its flights would cause.

Speaking on Newstalk this afternoon, Minister Ryan said that the number of passengers affected would relatively small and that Are Lingus was now working to accommodate them.

 “We will be engaging with all stakeholders today and over the comings days to restore connectivity to the regional airports affected by today’s announcement,” he said.

“Our department is working on that today, and we’d expect to go to Government on Tuesday, if not before then, with proposals as to what we do next.” 

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said Stobart's decision was 'concerning.' File Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said Stobart's decision was 'concerning.' File Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the department said the impact on regional connectivity will be prioritised by the government. 

“We are acutely aware of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the sector and are working to secure these vital regional routes," she said. 

Government urged to 'wake up' and support aviation industry

Earlier this morning, the Fórsa trade union urged the Government to “wake up” to the overall impact of the pandemic on Ireland’s aviation industry.

Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly said Stobart Air staff have been left devasted by the announcement. 

“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," said Ms Connolly. 

"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 trade union said a special package of economic measures would now be needed from the government to support the industry. 

“The Government needs to decide if the crisis in this vital industry is to be permanent or temporary. 

"Only the State has the power and resources to preserve Ireland’s vital international connectivity – the connectivity that supports thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs – over the coming months, and possibly years,” she said.

Some 480 staff at the airline, which operates 12 Are Lingus regional routes, will be impacted. Picture: Larry Cummins
Some 480 staff at the airline, which operates 12 Are Lingus regional routes, will be impacted. Picture: Larry Cummins

 

European routes cancelled

Stobart's announcement follows a decision by Aer Lingus to cancel some flights to European destinations due to poor demand from customers.

Flights to cities in France, Italy and Croatia are among those pulled from the schedule.

The routes have been cancelled for the remainder of 2021.

The airline said the decision will allow it to focus its capacity on routes where there is the greatest demand as travel restrictions ease.

It says all customers that had booked have been contacted and offered a refund.

The statement outlining the issue said the uncertainty surrounding international travel prior to the recent Government announcement meant it was not possible for the airline to accurately predict where demand would be.

The airline said it has been hard hit by travel restrictions on international travel since the outbreak of the pandemic last year with financial losses running at €465m since the onset of the Covid crisis.

Fears have also circulated that a recent decision to close the Shannon base and temporarily close the base at Cork airport preempts a retreat to Dublin airport as the main operations hub. 

The airline’s decision means the jobs of all 81 cabin crew at Shannon are at risk, while 45 ground staff at the airport will be laid off. At Cork, 138 cabin crew and 60 ground staff will be laid off from September through November.

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