Stobart Air to lay off staff and suspend international flights

Aer Lingus regional operator says it is responding to the staggering impact of Covid-19

Stobart Air has said it will operate a reduced schedule for the rest of the week in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Aer Lingus regional operator Stobart Air is to lay off staff and temporarily suspend all international flight operations from Saturday in response to the "staggering" impact of the coronavirus pandemic on demand for airline services.

In a statement on Monday, the company also said it would operate a reduced schedule for the rest of the week.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the demand for airline services decrease at unprecedented levels,” it said. “Its rapid impact across the global aviation industry has been staggering.

“Against this backdrop, Stobart Air has today taken the decision to operate a significantly reduced schedule this week and temporarily suspend all international flight operations with effect from March 28th until further notice.”

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The airline will continue to operate its public service obligation routes from Dublin to Kerry and Dublin to Donegal to maintain domestic connectivity for passengers.

“All scheduled international services will continue to operate up to 11.59pm on Tuesday to ensure passengers have an opportunity to complete trips or make necessary travel arrangements,” it said.

“International services between March 25th and March 28th will be reduced to limited services between Dublin and Glasgow and Dublin and Edinburgh. All affected passengers will be notified by email and advised of their options.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this unavoidable decision brings to our valued customers.”

Stobart also said it would be forced to temporarily lay off staff following the move to suspend international flights.

“We are also mindful of the impact these measures will have on our team who have shown immense professionalism and forbearance at this time,” it said.

“We have been engaging with our staff, their representatives and wider suppliers over recent days as we explored difficult but necessary measures to retain jobs such as voluntary unpaid leave and reduced working hours while reducing the cost base.

“Now, given the decision to suspend international services, temporary lay-offs will be required. Consultation with staff and employee representative groups to make the difficult but necessary arrangements are underway.

“These measures are being implemented to protect the business against the current commercial reality and position us for the future.

“Stobart Air’s operations, particularly our Aer Lingus Regional service, have proven to be popular with millions of passengers over the years.

“Central to this has been our team of pilots, cabin crew, ground and executive staff. We remain committed to the resumption of services once the Covid-19 pandemic has ended.”

Aer Lingus said it had been informed of the decision, and that customers would be contacted to advise them of their options.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter