Loganair has announced its cancelling its Isle of Man to London Heathrow route from August 11.
The decision by the UK’s largest regional operator comes after the Isle of Man Government was unable to agree essential financial support for the service beyond the end of July.
Loganair started the route at the end of November last year on a 49-seat Embraer 145 jet, maintaining essential connectivity for the Isle of Man with destinations worldwide, after previously operating a service from the island to London City on behalf of BA CityFlyer.
It was the first time the Glasgow-based airline had operated a scheduled service to Heathrow and followed successful moves by Loganair to secure runway slots there.
Loganair maintained the Isle of Man’s passenger air services following the demise of Flybe and the introduction of Covid-19 lockdowns in March 2020, and today operates routes from the island to Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Jersey. It also offers seamless onward connections with partner airlines including British Airways, KLM, Qatar Airways, Emirates and United Airlines.
The airline employs pilots and cabin crew based in the Isle of Man and contracts the maintenance of its aircraft to local company M&A Technical Services, which is based at the island’s Ronaldsway Airport.
Loganair chief commercial officer Kay Ryan said: “We regret having to take this decision to cancel the Heathrow service and also very much regret the inconvenience to our customers. The sharp rise in costs of operating services at London’s premier airport coupled to the slower-than-expected rebound in passenger numbers after the pandemic mean that the route is not viable unless it has financial support from the Isle of Man Government.
“We were given to understand the connectivity we can provide via codeshare agreements with our international airline partners at Heathrow was of vital importance to the Island community, and it has therefore come as an unwelcome surprise that the Isle of Man Government foresees no continuing requirement for the route.
“Meantime we fully intend to support local employment and the local business supply chain by continuing our other services from the island, and we hope to continue vital airlinks for the island patient travel service to Liverpool hospitals. Our Manchester service gears up to twice daily from 31 August, and will increase to four daily flights by Summer 2022 as planned. We hope that, as international connectivity rebuilds after the pandemic, Manchester can act as the essential international travel hub for the Isle of Man.”
A statement from the Isle of Man government reads: "Loganair provided much valued support for the Isle of Man during the pandemic, as choosing to underwrite flights to Heathrow ensured connectivity to and through London.
"This marked an important strategic decision taken at an appropriate time and was regarded as essential in the Island’s economic and social interest.
"The resumption of commercial flights to the South East of England mean the Isle of Man Government should now step away and allow the aviation sector to cater for demand in a competitive marketplace.
"The cancellation of passengers’ flights is, of course, regrettable and will lead to some disappointment, but is ultimately a commercial decision.
"Loganair remain an important part of the Island’s aviation future and we look forward to building on our positive working relationship".