Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 23-01-2014

Call to protect Manchester air link

by Joanne Clague

Call to protect Manchester air link - picture

Local pressure group Travelwatch wants the Manx Government to safeguard the Island's link to Manchester in the wake of a long period of uncertainty over the summer air schedules.
The group's organiser Dick Clague has warned that passengers will find it increasingly difficult to book flights that are convenient, will increasingly need to book ahead to obtain preferred flights and will face fare increases. Travelwatch says it is pleased to note that 11 direct routes will operate throughout the summer and are bookable now, but points out a contrast to three years ago when 20 summer routes were available.
Mr Clague said: 'It is not just the loss of routes which will concern passengers but also the reduced capacity on many of the remaining routes. Many destinations will still be available within and beyond the UK by changing at Manchester. With the closure of their base at Ronaldsway the long term future of individual Isle of Man services provided by Flybe will be dependent on the economic deployment of their aircraft from their other bases.
'Their Manchester service is important both to them and the Island because it will become the principal route for passengers wishing to fly further afield either for leisure or business purposes. For that to work the high frequency service to and from the Island needs to be safeguarded and TravelWatch calls on the Isle of Man Government to take steps to ensure this happens.'
Nine routes have been lost over the past three years, including Luton, East Midlands, Leeds, Southampton and Edinburgh. Travelwatch says capacity has been reduced by more than 30 per cent on routes to Gatwick, Liverpool, Birmingham and Jersey.

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