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Aer Lingus Regional flights cancelled following collapse of operator Stobart Air

The Air Lingus Regional hub at Belfast City Airport was due to expand to nine routes.

All Aer Lingus Regional flights out of Belfast City Airport have been cancelled after operator Stobart Air ended its contract with the Irish airline.

Stobart Air informed staff last night that the company’s board had taken the decision to terminate its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus.

It followed the collapse of a deal between Isle of Man based Ettyl Limited to buy Stobart Air from its owner Esken.

The company said that in the absence of any alternative buyers or funding, it had terminated its Aer Lingus franchise agreement, cancelled all flights and would appoint a liquidator.

According to the email, seen by The Irish News, staff were told: “In the absence of any alternative purchasers, or any alternative sources of funding for the Stobart Air UC business within the timescales required, Esken last night (June 11), advised the Board of Stobart Air UC that it will not continue to provide financial support to the Stobart Air UC business going forward.”

Aer Lingus has confirmed that all its regional flights operated by Stobart Air are cancelled, and advised customers booked to travel on the flights not to come to airport.

In a statement, the airline said: “Late on the evening of 11th June, Stobart Air notified Aer Lingus that it was terminating its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus with immediate effect. As a result, all Aer Lingus Regional flights operated by Stobart Air are cancelled.

"Stobart Air referred to the continuing impact of the pandemic which has resulted in almost no flying since March 2020.

"Stobart Air has ceased trading and is now in the process of appointing a liquidator.

"Aer Lingus apologises to customers for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation at such short notice of all flights operated by Stobart Air. Aer Lingus is now communicating to customers to advise them of their options for refund or re-booking."

Stobart Air’s franchise contract with Aer Lingus was due to run until the end of 2022, with Conor McCarthy’s start-up Emerald Airlines taking over the contract in 2023.

Launched last summer with six routes, the Aer Lingus Regional hub at Belfast City Airport was due to expand to nine destinations this summer.

It’s unlikely Emerald Airlines will be in a position to immediately take over the service in the short-term.

But it’s thought that a number of other regional airlines could soon step in for the more profitable routes.

Stobart Air currently have five aircraft based at Belfast City Airport.

The Air Lingus Regional hub at the airport included Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leeds Bradford, and Manchester.

Flights to Cardiff and Newquay were due to launch on June 28, with a Glasgow service due to come into operation on July 1.

A spokesperson for Belfast City Airport said: “We were informed by Aer Lingus this morning (June 12), that Stobart Air who operated the Aer Lingus Regional franchise has ceased operations.

 “As a result Aer Lingus flights to and from Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, East Midlands and Birmingham have been cancelled.

 “The Aer Lingus Heathrow service is not affected and is still operating.

 “We apologise to our passengers for this inconvenience and are working with Aer Lingus to ensure these routes are operating again as soon as possible.

 “Passengers booked on these flights should not travel to the airport but should instead contact Aer Lingus.”

Aer Lingus has said all Stobart Air flights on the following routes are cancelled: Dublin / Kerry; Dublin / Donegal; Dublin / Glasgow; Dublin / Edinburgh; Dublin / Manchester; Dublin / Newquay; Belfast City / Manchester; Belfast City / Birmingham; Belfast City / Edinburgh; Belfast City / Leeds Bradford, Belfast City / Exeter; Belfast City / East Midlands.

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