Stobart Air has confirmed that it will cease operations from Shannon Airport from January 5th with the loss of 20 flights a week.
The franchise flying partner to Aer Lingus confirmed last night that the decision follows a review of its services at Shannon and described the decision as “regrettable”.
Formerly Aer Arann, Stobart Air currently operates services from Shannon to Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh on behalf of Aer Lingus under the Aer Lingus Regional brand.
The airline enjoyed a 43% increase in passenger numbers on these routes in September compared to the same month last year.
The company confirmed last night: “Stobart Air, operator of Aer Lingus Regional, will end its Shannon based services with effect from 5 January next.”
“This is a regrettable decision, and not one taken lightly. Shannon does not fit with our current strategic plan, and we have to make the right long-term choices for the airline.
We regret any adverse impact this may have on our customers, and wish to reassure them that everyone will be fully accommodated. We also wish to recognise once more the support we have received from everyone at Shannon Airport,” the spokesman said.
The airline added: “Passengers with bookings for flights after 5 January 2015 will be contacted directly by the airline in the coming days. All passengers will be re-booked on alternative Aer Lingus Regional flights from other airports or given a full refund. All Stobart Air employees at Shannon Airport will have the opportunity to be redeployed within the company.”
A Shannon Airport spokesman said: “Shannon Airport has been informed by Stobart Air (Aer Lingus Regional) that, it is to cease operations on its three services, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh, as of January 5th.”
“This decision is outside our control and we are already in talks to secure replacement carriers for these services and are assisted by the fact that these routes have delivered strong passenger numbers,” the airport said.
The news comes in the same week that it was confirmed Stobart won a tender process to provide services under the Government’s Public Service Obligation scheme on the Kerry-Dublin and Donegal-Dublin routes from early next year.
Airline employees at Shannon now believe the company wants to second the aircraft it had based at Shannon for these PSO routes.
Last month however, Stobart axed it’s Shannon to Manchester service a day after Ryanair commenced operations on the same route.
Fianna Fáil spokesman on Transport Deputy Timmy Dooley said: “This a big disappointment but it shouldn’t undermine totally the element of recovery in passenger numbers that has taken place at Shannon.
“Shannon must now find a replacement airline if it is to develop as a hub airport. It needs feeder flights and that’s Stobart had been doing,” Mr Dooley added.