Loganair restores link between Isle of Man and Liverpool

Scottish airline Loganair will provide vital air links between the Isle of Man and Liverpool to help residents needing medical treatment on the mainland.

The route was hit last week with the collapse of regional carrier Flybe, which affected 19 return flights a week between the island and Liverpool.

But Loganair, based in Paisley, near Glasgow, will operate two daily flights using a Saab 340 aircraft, which are seen as essential for Isle of Man residents requiring medical treatment in Liverpool and the North West.

Flybe held the patient transfer contract which enabled thousands of people to fly to the mainland for specialised treatment not available on the island.

The island’s infrastructure minister, Ray Harmer, said patients would be given “priority” on the flights, which will commence on Thursday, March 12.

Talks are under way for a similar deal to restore flights between the island and Manchester and Birmingham, said Mr Harmer.

He said Loganair had stepped in as an “interim solution while negotiations continue” about the long term future of the routes.

He added: “I have put Liverpool top of the list of destinations even though easyjet also operate the route, because of the needs of the patient transfer service.

“That means we have pre-booked seats each day for patients.”

Loganair chief executive, Jonathan Hinkles, said: “We understand how important this link is to the Isle of Man, and we have worked with the Isle of Man Government to provide this initial interim service.

“We fully expect to announce an expansion of our services in the coming weeks.”

He added: “We are interested in principle in providing a further range of services to and from the Isle of Man, including operating the Liverpool route on a permanent basis and are in advanced talks about restoring the Manchester and Birmingham routes, also lost in the collapse of Flybe.”

Loganair operates routes between the island and Edinburgh, as well as the London City connection on behalf of British Airways and it also aims to assume a number of UK routes previously operated by Flybe.

More than 2,000 jobs were lost when Flybe collapsed into administration, halting a range of routes, including from Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport.

Flybe said it had fallen victim to the coronavirus crisis with many people cancelling their travel plans in recent weeks.

The firm officially entered administration at 3am on March 5, and ceased trading immediately.