The key word in the announcement made on Thursday last is ‘suspension’, with Aer Arann keen to stress that the news didn’t mark a retreat from its commit-ment to regional airports.
“Route reductions like this are normal for the winter schedule,” according to Aer Arann’s designate Chief Executive Paul Schütz, anxious to quell any Waterford-sourced worries.
“While the cuts may be a little deeper in these recessionary times, routes that are suspended will be kept under review and may return in the future when the demand is there to support them.
“We will also continue to seek new route opportunities so that we can strengthen our position as a leading regional carrier.”
The Amsterdam route is the only service which Aer Arann is suspending from its Waterford base.
Meanwhile, the number of flights from Waterford to both Birmingham and Manchester will be reduced from six a week to five a week between January 12th and March 29th. The popular summer service to Lorient is still scheduled to return.
Some currently unscheduled services to accommodate the Six Nations Rugby Championship and the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh next May (presumably out of Cork) will be operated and announced in due course.
“The significant point from [last Thursday’s] announcement is that we have limited the impact on jobs, on the fleet reduction and on route suspensions,” added Mr Schütz.
“We will now implement our new business plan and mix the deployment of our fleet over the contract lease and charter market. We will also develop our scheduled routes to the maximum potential, addressing the need for a service that is not being provided by the larger carriers.”
The airline had expected to lay off 100 staff but that’s been reduced to 70 following the establishment of a new Isle of Man base which will serve London City Airport.
“This retention of jobs is a welcome immediate result to a sustained effort to implement a dynamic new business model and a strategy that reflects the economy generally and an aviation industry globally that is under severe pressure,” said Mr Schütz.
This development will allow Aer Arann to retain its core fleet of 11 aircraft on scheduled services, with an additional aircraft on contract lease.
Aer Arann will also continue to base two aircraft at Waterford Airport.