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Aer Lingus Regional flights cancelled as Stobart Air goes into administration

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Aer Lingus Regional, which is run on a franchise basis by Stobart Air, collapsed last night as Stobart Air went into administration.

Twelve routes were currently operating under the franchise deal but are now suspended:

  • Dublin – Kerry
  • Dublin – Donegal
  • Dublin – Glasgow
  • Dublin – Edinburgh
  • Dublin – Manchester
  • Dublin – Newquay
Aer Lingus Regional flights cancelled as Stobart Air goes into administration
  • Belfast City – Manchester
  • Belfast City – Birmingham
  • Belfast City – Edinburgh
  • Belfast City – Leeds Bradford
  • Belfast City – Exeter
  • Beflast City – East Midlands

This was, to be honest, almost inevitable.

In late 2020, Aer Lingus awarded the contract to run Aer Lingus Regional services to Emerald Airlines. This was a controversial decision because Emerald Airlines did not actually have any aircraft at the time. It was due to start running services from the end of 2022.

From that point Stobart Air – which was relying on the Aer Lingus contract for the bulk of its revenue – was in trouble.

As we covered, Stobart’s parent company put the airline up for the sale. A few weeks ago it announced that it planned to sell to a start-up company based in the Isle of Man called Ettyl. Carlisle Lake District Airport was also to be included in the sale.

Ettyl was run by a 26-year old called Jason Scales with no experience in the airline industry. Two weeks ago, Stobart’s parent company, Esken, announced that the sale was now in doubt because Ettyl could not raise the necessary financing as promised.

With no other bidders in the frame and with no immediate prospect of a short term pick-up in UK flying, the demise of Aer Lingus Regional last night was not a surprise.

What does Aer Lingus do now?

Aer Lingus now has an issue. Emerald Airlines is not in a position to pick up these routes for another 18 months, although clearly Stobart Air’s fleet of 13 turboprop aircraft are now available.

In the meantime, competitors will fill the gaps on its most lucrative routes. These competitors will be well established by the time that the Emerald Airlines franchise is finally launched, and Aer Lingus Regional may struggle to win back market share, apart from connecting traffic at Dublin.

EDIT: Aer Lingus and BA CityFlyer to step in this week

During Saturday, it has been announced that, for at least the next week:

  • Aer Lingus will operate the Dublin/Edinburgh, Dublin/Manchester, Belfast City/Manchester, Belfast City/Birmingham and Belfast City/Edinburgh routes using its own aircraft
  • BA CityFlyer will operate the Belfast City/Exeter route and the Belfast City/Leeds Bradford route

Passengers due to fly on other routes will be offered alternative routings or refunds. It isn’t clear if these interim arrangements will continue beyond next week.


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Comments (28)

  • mr_jetlag says:

    Ettyl’s founder Jason Scales made his fortune via crypto. Not sure that qualifies one to run an airline. Still, shame about the liquidation.

    • Sloth says:

      Probably as good an indication as any that making money in crypto is more luck than judgement…

  • Nick says:

    Exactly! It was inevitable, sadly, just like, as another example, around 50% of restaurants that go into administration in their first year of operation, and that was even before COVID!

    What’s just as inevitable, is that we’ll see many more such failures, when the taxpayer ends it’s direct & indirect subsidy of so many of these companies.

    No, it’s not good for any of the companies involved, but, it’s sadly, indeed, inevitable.

    • ADS says:

      i’m not sure about “inevitable” but it was definitely a risk

      When Aer Lingus were evaluating the franchise proposals, I wonder whether they calculated the impact that a Stobart collapse would have on their business ?

      And whether once Aer Lingus awarded the franchise to Emerald, whether they developed a mitigation plan ready to implement ?

  • Nick says:

    The Dublin routes were mainly for connection feed into other EI flights. So any other airline that tries to enter will only succeed if they have a connection agreement with EI.

    • marcw says:

      +1

    • Stuart says:

      The DUB to GLA route always had a lot of point to point folks on it, but in summer, it was rammed with Americans. The Chicago flight connection seemed particularly popular.

      As a side note, I think the KIR and CFN routes were PSO. Wonder what will happen to them.

      • ADS says:

        “In line with Articles 16 and 17 of Regulation 1008/2008, the Department of Transport7 tendered for PSO air services in respect of two routes in 2017.
        The current PSO contract with Stobart Air, which governs the operation of air services on the Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin routes, expires on 31 January 2022 – one year into the new Programme.”

        from a 4th February 2021 Irish Department of Transport document

  • Magic Mike says:

    As the old joke goes – what’s the best way to become a millionaire?

    Be a billionaire and start an airline…

    • Rob says:

      Ettyl was paying £2 for Stobart Air IIRC – we could have had a reader whip-round to raise the financing 🙂

      • WaynedP says:

        With probably more expertise at operating an airline, by all accounts.

      • Tariq says:

        Why wouldn’t Aer Lingus buy it themselves?

        • Rob says:

          Clearly believe it is ‘faff’ they can do without. Same reason CityFlyer is separate from mainline BA with a Midlands HQ.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Posted earlier in chat thread but telegraph had an article at the weekend saying police had been alterted to ‘irregularities’ with the paperwork relating to Scales’ proposal

    • A says:

      A spokesman for Ettyl said: “Ettyl can confirm that it raised concerns with the Isle of Man Constabulary as soon as it became aware of an issue with the paperwork supplied by one of the proposed third-party funders.

  • Dublin Boy says:

    Aer Lingus announcing that they will operate 5 of the routes with their own aircraft for a least a week with BA City Flyer operating two more.

  • John says:

    IAG deploying CityFlyer, a good idea in circumstances.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2021/0612/1227685-stobart-air/

  • Rimmingtown says:

    Gutted by this, Donegal airport one of the most scenic approaches

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