Stobart Air enters liquidation after potential buyout fails

Luka Cvetkovic, used with permission

Stobart Air entered a liquidation process, the airline announced on June 12, 2021, citing the “continuing impact of the pandemic which has resulted in almost no flying since March 2020.” Stobart Group, recently renamed Esken, decided to pull support from its subsidiary after negotiations with a potential buyer, Ettyl, fell through.

“It is disappointing for all stakeholders that we have been unable to conclude the sale of Stobart Air as a going concern despite the tireless efforts of my executive colleagues, the management team of the Airline and the team of advisers who have supported them,” Executive chairman David Shearer commented. “I am acutely aware of the impact this will have on the staff, customers and the businesses associated with the Airline but the continuing impact of the pandemic in terms of lockdown and limited travel has prevented us from achieving a better outcome.”

Stobart Air was operating a fleet of ATR 42s, ATR 72s, and one Embraer 195. Esken said the leases on eight planes would continue until 2023 while it would attempt to find someone to sublease the aircraft to.

In a press release, Aer Lingus confirmed that all its regional flights operated by Stobart Air were canceled. “Late on the night of Friday, June 11, [2021] Stobart Air notified Aer Lingus that it was terminating its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus with immediate effect,” Aer Lingus wrote in a statement. “As a result, all Aer Lingus Regional flights operated by Stobart Air are canceled.” 

Reacting to the news, the Irish Department of Transport said it would work to restore connectivity to the regional airports affected. “We are acutely aware of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the sector and are working to secure these vital regional routes,” Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said. “The restoration of our regional connectivity is of critical importance and will be prioritized by the Government in the coming days.”

The CEO of the Irish-based low-cost Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, reacted by targeting the Irish government as the main culprit for the distress of the aviation industry in Ireland. “We cannot get a minister in this country – Minister Ryan, the useless transport minister, nor Minister Varadkar, nor our Taoiseach Micheál Martin – to explain why they’re keeping this country locked down despite the fact they let unlimited UK visitors in here across the Northern Ireland border,” O’Leary told RTÉ Radio One.

In response, Ryanair launched a rescue offer. “Stobart Air customers who have canceled flights in the next few days can enjoy the lowest fares and the most reliable service when switching to Ryanair,” a Ryanair spokesperson said.

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