Talks on new Aer Lingus Regional deal could be concluded in weeks

Discussions between Aer Lingus and Emerald are continuing

Stobart has held the Aer Lingus Regional contract since 2011. The services link the Republic’s airports with provincial centres in Britain.  Photograph: iStock

Stobart has held the Aer Lingus Regional contract since 2011. The services link the Republic’s airports with provincial centres in Britain. Photograph: iStock

 

Talks on a new Aer Lingus Regional deal could be concluded in several weeks, it emerged on Thursday.

Aer Lingus began exclusive negotiations with Emerald Airlines, controlled by businessman Conor McCarthy, last November after seeking bids to operate the franchise when its deal with Stobart Air ends in December next year.

It is understood that discussions between Aer Lingus and Emerald are continuing, with negotiations likely to continue for several weeks more before final agreement is reached.

Meanwhile, Stobart Air’s majority owner Esken – formerly Stobart Group – gave no indication that it was close to selling the Irish carrier despite saying it hoped to do so by the end of its financial year on February 28th.

In a statement Esken said that this hope remained unchanged. “The strategy is to exit Stobart Air and the company said they would be disappointed if hadn’t successfully exited the business by the end of this financial year,” the UK company confirmed.

Transport and energy group Esken put Stobart Air up for sale last year as it continued to lose cash in the face of the Republic’s tough Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Stobart has held the Aer Lingus Regional contract since 2011. The services link the Republic’s airports with provincial centres in Britain. Emerald will begin flights in January 2023.

Before Government-imposed Covid-19 travel restrictions hit aviation, part of their role was to feed passengers into Aer Lingus’s transatlantic flights at Dublin.

Government’s tightening of these travel curbs in the run-up to Christmas has left Aer Lingus and Ryanair, responsible for about two-thirds of all traffic in and out of the Republic, operating at a fraction of their normal capacity.

Mr McCarthy is the biggest shareholder in aircraft maintenance group Dublin Aerospace. Previously he was head of Aer Lingus’s commuter division, before working for Ryanair for a period.