Stobart Air to operate routes from London on behalf of British Airways

Deal mirrors a similar one in Dublin involving Aer Lingus and Cityjet

 

Airline Stobart Air will operate some services from London City Airport services on behalf of British Airways in a deal similar to one involving Aer Lingus and Cityjet that faces a potential competition law investigation.

Cityjet last month transferred its Dublin-London City Airport route to Aer Lingus but provides the aircraft and crew to operate the service under an agreement known in aviation industry as a wet lease.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating whether the Aer Lingus-Cityjet agreement qualifies as a merger, and if so, if it limits competition on the route.

Regional airline Stobart Air is due to announce today that it will operate services to and from London City Airport for British Airways offshoot BA Cityflyer under a similar deal.

BA Cityflyer flies from London City to Dublin, Paris Orly and Zurich. It is understood that the routes Stobart operates will be at the discretion of the British Airways subsidiary.

Meanwhile, the Republic’s regulator, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission confirmed that it has contacted Aer Lingus and Cityjet regarding their agreement on the Dublin-London City Airport route.

The competition watchdog has also provided assistance to its British counterpart but has not at this point begun an investigation of its own.

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The UK investigation into the Aer Lingus-Cityjet deal could take until December 24th. At that point, the regulator will decide whether to allow the deal or move to a more detailed phase two probe.

Cityjet began flying the route under the Aer Lingus brand as scheduled earlier this month.

Aer Lingus’s announcement of its intention to take on the Dublin-London City service triggered the UK investigation.

UK-based and Spanish-registered International Airlines Group owns both the Irish airline and British Airways, which also offers flights between Dublin and London City Airport.

Stobart is spending €36 million leasing two Embraer 190 craft over three years from Limerick-based Nordic Aviation Capital on the back of its agreement with British Airways.

The airline has also begun hiring 40 extra people, 10 captains and first officers and 30 cabin crew, as a result of the deal.

Graeme Buchanan, Stobart Air’s managing director, said that the airline’s growth prompted it to invest in aircraft and staff.

Stobart flies regional services between Irish and British airports for Aer Lingus and operates a Southend- Isle of Man service for UK carrier Flybe.

British Airways will be the third airline that it has recruited as a client. Stobart Air is poised to grow passenger numbers by 17 per cent to two million this year.