The number of flights between the Isle of Man and London is to be increased but the timings are far from ideal, according to one pressure group.
EasyJet today (Monday) announced five additional flights a week between the Isle of Man and London Gatwick from March 2014, which will mean two daily services each week day.
The airline already operates a daily flight to Gatwick and has increased the frequency to 12 flights per week ‘to ensure travellers can continue to enjoy regular connections when Flybe pulls out of the service next spring’.
Flybe currently flies from Ronaldsway to Gatwick four times a day on weekdays – at 6.45am, 9.50am. 1.50pm and 5.35pm.
The return flights are at 8.55am, 1.15pm, 5.10pm and 9pm.
Its services will end in March.
From March 30 EasyJet will fly up to twice a day between the Isle of Man and London Gatwick. The airline says that the double daily connection will enable travellers to make easy and affordable day trips as well as being able to access the 100 destinations easyJet serve from London Gatwick. The flights will operated by 156-seat A319 aircraft.
However, the proposal has been criticised by pressure group Travel Watch.
Spokseman Dick Clague said: ‘EasyJet’s additional daily flight to Gatwick will not be departing the island until 11.35am.
‘Their last Gatwick departure is at 4.20pm, making an effective day trip to London virtually impossible, and missing out on most of the connecting air services to European and long-haul destinations.
‘While the extra morning flight may be welcomed by some leisure passengers, the timing of both flights will be a huge blow to the business community, as well as to the thousands of people currently using Gatwick for onward connections.’
Ali Gayward, commercial manager for easyJet, said: ‘We are pleased to announce additional services to London Gatwick today as a sign of our continued commitment to serving the Isle of Man. From March 2014 we will offer a greatly enhanced schedule of flights for leisure and business travellers with up to five additional flights per week.
‘The new schedule will make it easy and affordable to do business in London thanks to the availability of a day return on easyJet for the first time. Our low fares and larger aircraft will also help attract more tourism to the island.’
Ann Reynolds, director of ports, said: ‘EasyJet have come up trumps with two flights to and from London Gatwick each weekday from March 2014. I’m delighted that EasyJet continues to support the island residents and businesses.’
The new flights went on sale today at www.easyJet.com with fares from £25.99 per person.
Mr Clague of TravelWatch said: ‘The island’s immediate hopes for London must now rest with BA CityFlyer, still apparently considering their future moves on the London City route.
‘Everyone – Government, business, travel organisations – must now hope for them to announce a viable morning and evening service on this vital link.
‘If this is favourable, as we all hope, this situation could well arise again in six months’, in 12 months’ time.
‘Our competitors, Jersey and Guernsey, continue to enjoy frequent air links to London with up to eight arrivals and departures daily.’