UK regional airline and largest regional operator in Europe, Flybe, has today outlined plans for the future of its Isle of Man base. While the base is to close for Flybe in time, the airline says the closure will be ‘under a phased and managed program’. Stobart Air will continue to provide services to and from the island.
The recently acquired airline, bought by Virgin Atlantic led consortium Connect Airways, has said the decision is part of a review of its network requirements. In a press release published today, Flybe said,
“Following a thorough review of its future fleet and network plans, Flybe … announced changes to its Isle of Man operations to be completed through a phased and managed programme by the start of Summer 2020.”
New services from Stobart Air
Under a new agreement with fellow UK regional airline Stobart, a change in aircraft will be seen at the start of the new year. According to Flybe, the two DeHavilland Q400s that currently serve the island will be replaced by the ‘more economically viable’ ATR 72-600s.
These new aircraft will continue to operate the established routes from the Isle of Man, including to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. Flybe state that Stobart is particularly successful with the ATR, and that these short routes are far better suited to this type of aircraft than to the iconic Flybe Q400.
The airline adds that its contract with the Department of Health and Social care on the island will remain intact. This means passengers looking to access health services in mainland UK will still be able to gain support via the Flybe team.
These new services with the ATR aircraft are slated to begin with the arrival of one ATR on January 5th, 2020. The second will arrive on March 29th. At this point, Stobart will take over the Isle of Man operations entirely from Flybe.
However, one service which will not be recommenced is the seasonal Heathrow service which was operated throughout summer 2019. This, they say, was only a short term venture, and will take its last flight on 26th October, 2019.;
No more base in IoM
With the introduction of these Stobart services in the new year, Flybe will no longer need a physical base on the Isle of Man. While the airline declined to comment specifically on any job losses associated with the closure, it has said that all team members based on the island have been personally informed.
According to the press release, Mark Anderson, CEO of Connect Airways, visited the island personally and discussed future plans with employees. At the meeting, he also discussed the airline’s future plans with a number of key stakeholders, including Minister Raymond Harmer, Department of Infrastructure; Nick Black, Chief Executive and Tim Baker, Member of House of Keys, Department of Infrastructure; Mark Lewin, Chief Executive, Department for Enterprise; Ann Reynolds, Director of Ports and Jez Spake, Deputy Airport Director.
Flybe referred Simple Flying to its press release for comment on the situation, in which it states,
“Providing Isle of Man customers with a good choice of connections and a great customer experience remains Flybe’s number one priority. Customers can continue to take advantage of one-stop connections that will remain available from Isle of Man to the world with its airline partners Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Qatar and Air France via Flybe’s Birmingham and Manchester hubs.”