All Aer Lingus regional flights operated by Stobart Air have been cancelled after the latter announced on Saturday morning it has ceased trading and is in the process of appointing a liquidator. Here’s some background on what’s happening, and who is affected.
Why has Stobart Air ceased trading?
Stobart Air has referred to the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry.
Last April, Stobart Air announced that a new owner had been identified. However, the company said the funding to support this transaction is no longer in place and the new owner is now unable to conclude the transaction.
“Given the continued impact of the pandemic, which has virtually halted air travel since March 2019, and in the absence of any alternative purchasers or sources of funding, the board of Stobart Air must take the necessary, unavoidable and difficult decision to seek to appoint a liquidator,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.
What flights are affected?
Aer Lingus regional flights operated by Stobart from Dublin Airport to Kerry, Donegal, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newquay and Manchester are affected, as well as those from Belfast Airport to Edinburgh, Exeter, East Midlands, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester.
What happens if I had booked such a flight?
Customers who were booked to travel on flights operated by Stobart Air are advised not to go to the airport, but to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information on refunds or rebooking options.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the airline has contacted Aer Lingus and offered to take stranded passengers on their flights from Dublin to Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
How many staff are affected by the announcement?
It is understood about 480 staff are affected, including approximately 120 pilots. The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) has said it is assisting members.
The collapse of Stobart Air this morning is yet another casualty of this Governments most restrictive aviation policy, hundreds have lost their jobs this morning, how many more will suffer before the Government wake up & use all available tools to get aviation back to work safely pic.twitter.com/wV8evDvsfB
— Alan (@alanGbrereton)
June 12, 2021
A devastating morning for @forsa_union_ie members and other workers in Stobart. The inevitable consequence of government delay and the failure to heed our warnings of the need for specific aviation supports. @MichealMartinTD @LeoVaradkar @EamonRyan https://t.co/bpb1o9jUdx
— Kevin Callinan (@kcallinan50)
June 12, 2021
Loganair is sorry to hear of the closure of Stobart Air this morning. Our thoughts are with its staff facing an uncertain future and customers whose journeys are disrupted by its cancellation of flights.
— Loganair (@FlyLoganair)
June 12, 2021
What has Aer Lingus said?
Aer Lingus said it was notified late on Friday evening by Stobart Air that it was terminating its franchise agreement with the company with immediate effect.
It has apologised to customers for the inconvenience caused at such short notice and is now communicating with those affected to advise them of their options for refunds or rebooking.
And what have the unions been saying?
Fórsa trade union, which represents 120 cabin crew and pilots with the airline, has called on the Government to “wake up” to the ongoing crisis in the Irish aviation sector following Stobart Air’s announcement.
Fórsa said staff based in Dublin, Cork and Belfast were “devastated” at hearing the news on Saturday morning.
Ashley Connolly, Fórsa national secretary, said Stobart had been working with the union to try to navigate a path through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Stobart Air were healthy when we went into this pandemic, it was a healthy company. It was also looking at expanding its routes from some of its bases in the island of Ireland and that was as recent as the last couple of weeks.
“But there is no doubt that the impact of this pandemic on the aviation sector – this is yet another casualty of a lack of action as we see it at this stage.”
Ms Connolly said there is a real need for “urgent action” from the Government.
Siptu representatives have also called for “immediate and significant” Government action to support the aviation sector.
Has the Government responded to the announcement?
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the announcement is “concerning news” for the affected workers and for regional connectivity.
“We will be engaging with all stakeholders today [Saturday] and over the comings days to restore connectivity to the regional airports affected by today’s announcement,” Mr Ryan said.
The Department of Transport said it is currently examining the implications and the cancellation of the Government-funded public service obligation routes which operate between Kerry and Dublin and Donegal and Dublin.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the restoration of regional connectivity is of “critical importance” and will be prioritised by the Government in the coming days.