IRELAND West Airport Knock have welcomed news that the immediate future of the UK-based airline Flybe has been secured after the UK government agreed a deal to save the airline.
Flybe is Europe’s largest regional carrier but was on the brink of collapse last week until the UK government stepped in to agree a rescue deal with the airline’s shareholders to keep it in the air.
Flybe has been operating flights between Ireland West Airport and the UK since 2011 provide over 100,000 annual seats to and from the UK every year. It currently runs year-round services between Knock and Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
“Ireland West Airport welcomes the announcement last Tuesday that Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, will continue to operate as normal and their flights to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester will continue to operate as scheduled in 2020. Flybe remains committed to providing exceptional air connectivity for the UK and Irish regions with the full support of its shareholders.
“Regional air connectivity provided by Flybe is a critical enabler for the economies of the West and North West of Ireland and the announcement ensures that regional connections will not only continue but flourish in the years to come. We look forward to continuing to work with and develop our network of services with the Flybe and Virgin Connect teams in 2020 and beyond,” an airport spokesperson stated.
The airline is owned by Connect Airways, a consortium led by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, which consists of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and Cyrus Capital.
The government package was criticised by rival airlines which said taxpayers funds should not be used to save a rival. Ryanair said it had called for ‘more robust and frequent stress tests on financially weak airlines and tour operators so the taxpayer does not have to bail them out’.
The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100 million Sterling and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106 million air passenger duty (APD) bill, plus a pledge to review taxes on domestic flights before the March budget.