Isle of Man residents need to start using Flybe’s route to Bristol Airport, or it will be axed, said airline boss, Mike Rutter.
Speaking in March, just a few days after the airline unveiled the route between the city and the island, Mike said, “Our Isle of Man passengers are looking for regular, reliable services with a carrier that is committed long-term to the island.”
However, the budget airline’s loyalty to the island has been tested by falling passenger numbers, prompting the carrier’s decision to review the route.
The Isle of Man, famed for the triskelion on its flag and its annual Tourist Trophy (or ‘TT’) motorcycle race, has been a staple of aviation news in recent months, chiefly concerning the activities of native carrier, Manx2.
Manx2 recently transferred its entire operation from Belfast International Airport to neighbouring Belfast City Airport, claiming that the move would “double” the size of its business in Northern Ireland.
Then, at the beginning of October, the airline was voted the best flight provider on the island, receiving 15% more of the votes than larger carrier, easyJet.
Flybe claims that the popularity of the Isle of Man is borne out by a rise in passenger numbers at other airports operating Flybe routes to the island, including Birmingham, Luton, and Manchester.
This means that either Bristol Airport is driving customers away, or travellers are being hoovered up by rival airports and airlines.
In this case, the fabled ‘giant-killer’ appears to be Gloucestershire Airport, located 50 miles up the M5 motorway. The tiny hub is home to just one airline, Manx2, which provides routes to Jersey, and its homeland, the Isle of Man.
EasyJet’s new route to Liverpool from the island has also been cited as a possible contributor to the failure of the Bristol-Isle of Man connection.
Bristol Airport bosses were not optimistic, with Director, Ann Reynolds, saying that she “would not be surprised,” if Flybe decided to operate the Isle of Man route on a summer-only basis, a dramatic cull of the 11 weekly flights operating at present.