The British government has confirmed that a new contract for an airline to operate public service route between the City of Derry in Northern Ireland and London Stansted airport should be signed before the end of the week.
The Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani told MPs on Monday the government “expects services to resume swiftly”. Emergency talks started almost immediately after flybmi ceased all operations on Saturday evening. “The government recognises the importance of maintaining regional connectivity, that is why we fund a public service route from Derry/Londonderry to London which was recently extended from the 1 April 2019 for a further two years,” Ghani told MPs.
Ghani said the local council had “the power to transfer the public service obligation contract to another airline for up to seven months to allow for a new procurement process to be conducted. – Subject to due diligence we expect the council to sign contracts and appoint an airline later this week and we are expecting services to resume swiftly,” she said.
The Scottish local regional airline Loganair is favourite to take on the route as it has already announced it will be stepping in to take over some of the other routes vacated by flybmi.
- Aberdeen to Bristol (commences 4th March)
- Aberdeen to Oslo (commences 4th March)
- Aberdeen to Esberg (commences 4th March)
- Newcastle to Stavanger (commences 25th March)
- Newcastle to Brussels (commences 25th March)
Jonathan Hinkles. Loganair Managing Director said, “It’s always really sad to see an airline go out of business, and our thoughts are with all those affected – particularly staff members. We are evaluating flybmi’s wider network and assessing routes which align with Loganair’s distinct geographical area and overall strategic plans. We are also working on employment opportunities for pilots, cabin crew and engineering support staff to strengthen the Loganair team.”
Loganair already operates to and from Glasgow, Scotland and Derry, the carrier uses either a 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft or a larger 50-seater Saab 2000 depending upon demand. It is understood that the airline will either use one of its turboprop Saab 2000’s or an Embraer ERJ 135 or 145 jet on the London route if it is awarded the contract. The ERJ135 has 37 seats while the larger ERJ145 carries 49 passengers and three crew.