Dodds working on GB flight connections as Stobart Air implodes
Stormont’s economy minister has said she is working with airports on an aviation scheme to maintain connections with Great Britain.
Diane Dodds was speaking after Stobart Air went into liquidation and ended its contract with Aer Lingus.
The sudden announcement led to the cancellation of several flights on Saturday from Belfast City and Dublin airports to UK cities.
Aer Lingus said Stobart Air informed them on Friday night it was terminating its franchise agreement and was appointing a liquidator.
Customers scheduled to travel from Belfast City to East Midlands, and Dublin to Glasgow or Newquay routes are being offered alternative flights.
BA City Flyer will operate the routes from Belfast City to Exeter and Leeds Bradford.
Mrs Dodds said on Saturday: “While the announcement that Stobart Air is to liquidate is disappointing when our economy is beginning to recover, as I announced on May 6, 2021, I am pro-actively working on the NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS) to help kick-start NI’s economic recovery by maintaining and enhancing our air connectivity with Great Britain.”
An Aer Lingus spokesperson said: “Of the 12 routes immediately impacted by Stobart Air’s decision to cease trading, Aer Lingus will operate five routes and for at least the next week, BA City Flyer will operate two.
“Alternative operations for the outstanding routes are still being determined.
“All impacted customers are being contacted directly and offered details of an alternative flight where feasible. All impacted customers also have the option of a full refund.”
Aer Lingus will directly operate the Dublin to Edinburgh and Manchester routes, and the Belfast City flights to Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Alternative operations for flights from Dublin to Kerry and Donegal are still to be decided.
A spokesperson for Belfast City Airport said: “We were informed by Aer Lingus this morning that Stobart Air, who operated the Aer Lingus regional franchise, has ceased operations. The Aer Lingus Heathrow service is not affected and is still operating.”
Alliance Party MLA Stewart Dickson said: “This is incredibly disappointing news for families and businesses affected by this news and my thoughts are with them and anyone whose job is impacted as a result.”
Irish transport minister Eamon Ryan said: “The announcement is concerning news for the affected workers and for regional connectivity.
“We will be engaging with all stakeholders today and over the comings days to restore connectivity.”