Isle of Man government ‘may pick up the tab’ for unprofitable air routes – BBC News

The Isle of Man government may have to “pick up the tab” for unprofitable airline routes as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the chief minister has said.

Ruling out the possibility of establishing a state-owned airline, Howard Quayle said the administration could underwrite routes in future.

TravelWatch Isle of Man (TWIoM) had called for a state-run operator.

The island’s air routes significantly reduced during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Mr Quayle said Manx taxpayers would “not be impressed” with the potential multimillion-pound losses of a government-owned airline, such as those incurred by Guernsey’s States-owned airline.

It was revealed in June that Aurigny made loses of £9.7m in 2019.

TWIoM’s Terry Liddiard said the government should invest in its own airline to secure routes while the airline industry recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

He said even without a state-owned operator, “the government will probably have to give financial support to another airline to come and operate… [so] we might as well have some control”.

Mr Quayle said he agreed “it may well be the case that we have to look at underwriting an airline company’s flights”.

He said if the administration wanted an operator to service a specific route and the cost was not met by passenger numbers, then the government may “pick up the tab… for the next number of years”.

The island’s border will reopen to residents on 20 July.

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