Stobart Air has made a dramatic u-turn and confirmed plans to return to Shannon Airport just eleven weeks after it axed it’s entire operation there.
The airline has confirmed plans to recommence a six times weekly service to Birmingham from June 18th but will not base any aircraft at Shannon.
Stobart Air, which operates the Aer Lingus Regional brand, ceased operations at Shannon on January 5th stating that the airport “does not fit with our current strategic plan at this time.”
When the Aer Lingus franchise partner closed it’s Shannon base, a total of 20 weekly flights to Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh were lost.
The company has now said: “Closing the base enabled us to consolidate our costs, and thereby look at Shannon from a different perspective. Now, it can work both for Shannon and our wider network.”
It’s known that Shannon Airport management had been working hard to see the routes reopened and at the weekend there was speculation that an agreement had been reached with Stobart.
Last night, Stobart Air confirmed that it will recommence its Shannon to Birmingham service beginning Tuesday 18 June next. An official announcement is expected later today (Tuesday).
The airline’s Head of Revenue Management Ronan Whitty said: “Aer Lingus Regional announced last January that, following a review of its route network and costs, it would no longer operate a full-time base at Shannon.”
“The January decision means the airline can now operate competitively at Shannon. The original decision to cease operations at Shannon Airport was a difficult but necessary one. The high cost of having aircraft based full-time at the airport made it more difficult to generate the necessary returns from our Shannon routes,” he said.
‘The passenger demand is there and together with our colleagues at Shannon and Birmingham Airports we will make a major push to mobilise a positive passenger response on this new route’, Mr Whitty added.
Shannon Group plc Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Murphy said: “We are very pleased to welcome back Stobart Air on this route. This is testament to the demand for services between Shannon and Birmingham and we look forward to working with Stobart and ensuring passengers flying to and from Shannon on this route get the best possible airport experience.”
“This announcement is really positive news for Shannon and our passengers,” Mr Murphy added.
The airline is also expected to deploy one of it’s new ATR-72-600 series turbo-prop aircraft on the route.
Fine Gael Clare TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, said the decision is a vote of confidence in the airport’s future.
“This is very good news for business and tourism in the Shannon region. It confirms Shannon’s position as an international transport hub and speaks volumes of the airport’s potential to continue to grow.
“Connectivity for Shannon Airport is extremely important and must be prioritised. Shannon Airport provides huge opportunity for economic growth and further development of our tourism offering. It also strengthens Shannon’s case as cross channel transatlantic hub for the UK particularly given the availability of US pre –clearance facilities making the Airport an attractive proposition in the event of any IAG takeover of Aer Lingus.
“Since splitting from the DAA, profit at Shannon Airport jumped by 34 per cent, while traffic was up 17 per cent. Flights between Shannon and UK destinations like Birmingham and Edinburgh were a loss for people of the region so it is a great achievement to have these routes restored,” added Deputy Breen.