Aer Arann, operating as Aer Lingus Regional, is to suspend its routes from Waterford Airport to Manchester, London Luton and London Southend from 6th January 2013. The airline will continue to offer services from Dublin to London Southend and from Cork and Shannon Airports to Manchester.
Sean Brogan, Interim Chief Executive, said: “We are in the process of finalising a new business plan that will put the airline on a path for growth. We have worked hard to overcome recent challenges, built a successful new partnership with Aer Lingus and grown our passenger numbers, If we are to protect and nurture these gains, we have got to concentrate resources on services that offer sustainable returns.
“Over recent months, the airline has conducted a root and branch evaluation of all routes. It was clear from this evaluation that our Waterford routes have not performed to a sustainable level.
“As a result, we have taken the decision to suspend all services from Waterford from 6th January next. This decision is regrettable, not least because of the professionalism and support we have received from everyone at Waterford Airport. We sincerely regret the impact that this decision has on our customers. We do not rule out returning to Waterford at some point in the future if the business case can be justified.”
Graham Doyle, Chief Executive of 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“It is clearly a blow to have key UK routes withdrawn in these particular circumstances and is especially disappointing given that the Aer Lingus Regional brand was only introduced at Waterford as recently as late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.
“No effort is being spared to replace these routes for 2013 and beyond. I am 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.”