MIAMI – Regional airline Stobart Air (RE), which operates flights on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional (EI), has gone belly up. RE went into liquidation and halted all services, one more proof that the COVID-induced crisis is still creating havoc in the airline industry.
According to various British newspapers, including The Guardian and the Independent, the regional carrier abruptly declared itself into liquidation, canceling all flights and leaving hundreds of travelers, mainly booked to/from Belfast airport (BFS) grounded. The fall could possibly mean the end of over 500 jobs.
The regional carrier blamed the COVID crisis as the reason for its demise, mainly due to its inability to raise new capitals when the main stakeholder, Esken, announced that it would no longer invest in the carrier.
Stobart Air, created in 1970 as Aer Arran, operates a fleet of ATR 42/72 turboprop aircraft. Plans to sell the airline to an Isle of Mans concern did not finalize, leaving RE with no viable solutions.
In pre-pandemic times, the regional carrier used to operate as much as 900 flights on 30 routes spanning over Western Europe but the crisis put an end to RE activity the has practically not operated flights since March 2020. EI’s Regional routes affected are those providing links between Northern Ireland and Birmingham (BHX), Exeter (EXT), Leeds Bradford (LBA), and Manchester (MAN).
Also affected are flights from Dublin (DUB) to Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA), Manchester (MAN), Newquay (NQY), and internal services to Donegal (CFN) and Kerry (KIR). Ironically enough, RE had taken over routes left vacant by the collapse of Flybe (BE) in March 2020, one of the first regional victims of the health crisis.
Featured image: Stobart Air ATR72-200 EI-REH. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways