Waterford Airport has expressed disappointment at the decision of Aer Lingus Regional to discontinue its London Luton, Southend and Manchester services from early January 2013 and withdraw its base from Waterford at that time.
The flights are operated by Aer Arann, which began flying from Waterford in 2003.
“We have been aware of Aer Arann’s difficulties since before their examinership in 2010 and continued to work with them through these challenges,” said airport CEO Graham Doyle. “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 South East 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,” he said.
From an airport perspective, Mr Doyle said that every effort was being made 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,” he said.
Flybe continues to operate from Waterford to Birmingham. European destinations are also offered on single transaction booking from Waterford via Birmingham.
Waterford Airport is the location for an Irish Coast Guard base operating from a purpose-built facility while the airport also has an active general aviation business, airport officials emphasised.
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