Aer Lingus Regional could be back in the skies by October this year, following the collapse of Stobart Air on June 12.
A new start-up, known as Emerald Airlines, looks set to take up the operation and an announcement is expected imminently.
Emerald is backed by aviation entrepreneur Conor McCarthy and a number of private investors. The airline was announced as the preferred bidder for the Irish flag-carriers regional routes last November. Stobart Air’s contract was due to expire at the end of 2022.
Under Stobart Air, Aer Lingus Regional operated a number of routes across the UK and Ireland, including two taxpayer-funded public service obligation (PSO) routes, from Dublin to Donegal and Kerry.
The Irish government is currently fast-tracking a tender to secure an interim operator for those routes for the next seven months. Emerald is currently unable to bid for these routes as it currently has no Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Mr McCarthy said Emerald hopes to fulfil all conditions to secure its AOC and its Irish operating licence by September. That will enable it to tender to operate the PSOs when the four-year contract comes up for grabs.
Emerald’s first two turboprop aircraft are currently being prepared at Exeter Aerospace in the UK – a company owned by Mr McCarthy’s Dublin Aerospace. The airline has already hired its first pilots and cabin crew.
Mr McCarthy envisages that by the end of next year the airline will have a fleet of 14 aircraft and approximately 400 staff.
Of its planned fleet, Emerald Airlines is in detailed negotiations for four of its additional aircraft and has been offered 34 aircraft to fill the final eight that will make up its fleet. The airline is also in advanced talks with Dublin, Cork and Belfast airports about setting up bases at the facilities.
Mr McCarthy said that Emerald eventually expects to be contributing 200,000 passengers a year to Aer Lingus’s transatlantic network out of Dublin.
We will of course keep you updated of any further developments with the airline and any job opportunities when we hear of them.
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