Waterford Airport disappointed at Aer Lingus Regional cessation of London and Manchester routes
Waterford Airport has expressed disappointment at the decision of Aer Lingus Regional to discontinue their London Luton, Southend and Manchester services from early January 2013 and withdraw their base from Waterford at that time. The flights are operated by Aer Arann who began flying from Waterford in 2003.
Acknowledging that Aer Arann’s business problems have been well documented, Graham Doyle, CEO, Waterford Airport said: “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 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“It is clearly a blow to have key UK routes withdrawn in these particular circumstances and is especially disappointing given that the Aer Lingus Regional brand was only introduced at Waterford as recently as late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,” he continued.
From an airport perspective, Mr 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 Dept 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.
“The level of investment that there has been in tourism infrastructure in Waterford as well as the planned ‘Medieval Mile’ project in Kilkenny make it even more vital that we maintain and build on regular passenger services from our nearest neighbour and biggest trading partner.”
Flybe continues to operate from Waterford to Birmingham. A wide range of European destinations are also offered on single transaction booking from Waterford via Birmingham. Waterford Airport is the location for a busy Irish Coast Guard base operating from a purpose built facility while the airport also has an active general aviation business.
Further information about services at Waterford Airport is available at www.flywaterford.com