Regional Carrier Stobart Air Ceases Operations

Irish regional airline Stobart Air has ceased its operations as of this morning. The carrier was known for operating scheduled services for regional brands such as Aer Lingus Regional. Its collapse has strongly affected regional routes from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to the UK, with widespread cancellations. Let’s take a look at what’s happened.

Aer Lingus regional Stobart Air ATR 72
Stobart Air flew ATR turboprops under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. Photo: Getty Images

The end of the line

Yesterday evening, Aer Lingus was made aware that its regional partner Stobart Air would be terminating its franchise agreement with the Irish flag carrier with immediate effect. This has come about due to Stobart Air sadly having had to cease its operations. Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have played a big role.

Specifically, the ongoing health crisis has “resulted in almost no flying since March 2020” for Stobart Air. As such, it has been forced to cease trading. It will now have to appoint a liquidator. Aer Lingus’s statement confirmed that this process has already begun.

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Aer Lingus Regional ATR72 Dublin
Stobart Air linked regional cities to Aer Lingus’s Dublin hub. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

The Irish flag carrier then addressed its customers, many of whom will be affected, adding that:

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. Customers who were booked to travel on flights operated by Stobart Air are advised not come to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information on refund or re-booking options.”

Widespread cancellations

The collapse of Stobart Air has led to widespread cancellations of Aer Lingus Regional flights. As such, there will be no service on the following routes today (and likely beyond):

  • Belfast City to Edinburgh, Exeter, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Birmingham, and Manchester.
  • Dublin to Donegal, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kerry, Manchester, and Newquay.

Aer Arann ATR 72
The airline was established as Aer Arann in 1970. Photo: Dean Morley via Flickr

Meanwhile, flights to and from London Heathrow are not affected, as Aer Lingus’ mainline brand operates these. Fellow regional carrier Loganair has quickly stepped in to assist Stobart Air’s otherwise stranded passengers. As seen in the tweet above, it is offering Stobart Air passengers a special ‘rescue’ fare of £60 on its routes from Belfast City.

Stobart Air in a nutshell

According to the Irish Times, Stobart Air had 480 staff, all of whom have been informed of the airline’s fate. The airline had operated under its current name since 2014, but had come into being decades before. Indeed, it can trace its roots as far back as the establishment of Aer Arann in 1970. The name change came about as part of a refinancing package.

Aer ingus Regional Stobart Air ATR42
Stobart Air employed 480 people. Photo: Luka Cvetkovic via Instagram (@euro_spotter)

According to ch-aviation.com, the airline’s fleet at the time of its collapse consisted almost entirely of ATR72-600 turboprops. However, it did also have a single ATR42-600, aged just 4.3 years old. Historically speaking, it has also operated Embraer and British Aerospace regional jets, the former of which have also been deployed on services for KLM Cityhopper.

It will be interesting to see what approach Aer Lingus takes to finding a new operator for its regional brand. This could yet prove a key opportunity for Emerald Airlines, a proposed startup which is aiming to commence operations in 2023 but is yet to receive an AOC.

What do you make of this sad news concerning Stobart Air’s cessation of operations? Did you ever fly with the airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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