Aer Lingus and BA CityFlyer have taken over a number of the routes previously operated by Stobart Air, which ceased operations at the end of last week. The carrier, Belfast City Airport’s biggest airline, was operating flights on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional.

    Some 12 routes are affected by the regional airline’s collapse. Aer Lingus is to pick up five of those, including Belfast to Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester and from Dublin to Edinburgh, while British Airways regional subsidiary BA CityFlyer is to take over another two – Belfast City to Leeds and Exeter – as an interim measure.

    Aer Lingus says that it is in touch with customers to advise them of their options in terms of a refund or re-booking. Customers who were booked to travel on flights operated by Stobart Air are advised not come to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information on refund or re-booking options.

    Stobart Air was due to have been acquired by Isle of Man-based Ettyl, which runs a block chain tech company. However, there were concerns over the future of the contract, amid reports that Aer Lingus was in talks with Emerald Airlines, run by businessman Conor McCarthy, with a view to the latter taking over the operation of the Aer Lingus Regional service from 2022 onwards.

    When the sale fell through, Stobart opted to go into administration. The decision means the loss of almost 500 jobs, as well as huge disruption for thousands of passengers.

    Many of Stobart’s routes were previously operated by Flybe, which went under last March. While CEO Mark Anderson said at the time that coronavirus was a factor in the collapse because it reduced passenger demand, it is clear the real reason was a failure to find further sources of funding.

    Later that same month, Stobart announced that it would be pausing all international flight operations due to the “staggering” impact of the Covid pandemic on the global aviation industry.