Posted on: 05 November 2012 by Mark Howells
Aer Lingus Regional is to discontinue itsWaterfordtoLondon Luton, London Southend and Manchester services – operated by Aer Arann – from early January 2013 and withdraw its base from Waterford at that time.
Acknowledging that Aer Arann’s business problems have been well documented, Graham Doyle, CEO of Waterford Airport experssed his diappointment at the move. “We have been aware of Aer Arann’s difficulties since before their examinership in 2010 and continued to work with them through these challenges. Regrettably, however, the airline has limited its capacity on the Waterford routes. This has been due to issues elsewhere in their business rather than the market in the southeast region [of Ireland] with a population of almost 500,000.
“This has seen services reduced on the consistently high-performing London Luton route in favour of Southend Airport, whose owners are now also Aer Arann’s largest shareholder. The Southend route performed poorly by comparison so that even a major marketing push by Waterford Airport and our partners could not fully mitigate this switch.
“It is clearly a blow to have key UK routes withdrawn in these particular circumstances and is especially disappointing given that the Aer Lingus Regional brand was only introduced at Waterford as recently as late March of this year – just over seven months ago. We were delighted to be working with the Aer Lingus brand but our understanding is that the decision arises from the sale of an aircraft by Aer Arann that necessitates them further cutting their route network.
“As well as the potential impacts for airline and airport staff, we are very aware of the effect this development will have on business and leisure passengers in to and out of the southeast,” Doyle continued.
From an airport perspective, Doyle said no effort is being spared to replace these routes for 2013 and beyond. “While it’s very early days, we are guardedly optimistic that the business case for operating between Waterford and these important destinations will be attractive to another airline, as proved to be the case when Flybe took up the Birmingham route after it was dropped by Aer Arann. We will also now liaise will all stakeholders including the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport as well as the State agencies concerned with inward investment and tourism – all of whom continue to work closely in support of the airport.”