FlyBe planeLoganair will step in to operate two daily flights between the Isle of Man and Liverpool following the collapse of troubled airline Flybe.

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer said the flights would start on Thursday.

Patients travelling to the UK for hospital appointments would be given “priority” on the flights, Mr Harmer added.

Flybe’s collapse on 5 March saw the loss of 19 return flights a week between the island and Liverpool.

The company also held the patient transfer contract, which saw thousands of people transported to UK hospitals each year for specialised treatments not available on the island.

Talks regarding the Manchester and Birmingham flights – which were lost entirely – are ongoing, Mr Harmer said.

Mr Harmer told politicians Loganair had stepped in as an “interim solution while negotiations continue” about the long term future of the routes.

He said: “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 Saab 340Image copyrightLOGANAIR
Image captionLoganair already operates flights between the island and Edinburgh

Mr Harmer said the government needed to “put the needs of those travelling to and from medical appointments first”.

Although “many airlines” were interested in the Isle of Man routes, the coronavirus outbreak meant it remained “a nervous time in the aviation industry”, he said.

The government was “very hopeful” a further announcement would be made “in the next week or so”, he added.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said the company was “interested in principle” in providing more services to and from the island, including running the Liverpool route on a permanent basis.

He said the airline was in “advanced talks” about restoring the Manchester and Birmingham routes.

Loganair already operates flights between the island and Edinburgh, and runs the London City connection on behalf of British Airways.

The Scottish airline has also announced plans to take on several UK routes operated by collapsed carrier Flybe.

Source: BBC