Use it or lose it, warns BA boss on London City air link

Isle of Man Airport

Isle of Man Airport

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We need people to support it to remain long-term.

That’s the call from BA CityFlyer commercial manager Luke Hayhoe as three return flights each weekday to London City are set to resume from March 31.

The flight schedule was originally increased in September 2012, but a year later it was reduced back to one return flight daily.

Mr Hayhoe said: ‘Previously we lost a lot of money on the service. We need people to support it to remain long-term.

‘There is a commitment from BA we want to be here long-term. We realise a well-timed route is vital for both business and leisure users and tourism to the Isle of Man.’

He cited ‘heavy losses’ as the reason the airline had to reduce the frequency of flights in September last year to just one.

‘There’s a huge amount of risk in an airline company with losses,’ Mr Hayhoe said.

‘In a good year, an airline might have a 10 per cent profit margin. I couldn’t commit to restoring the airlink to London without some support.

‘I’m very happy to be working with Manx Business Connection and its supporters of the route.’

Mr Hayhoe remained tight-lipped over the terms of the deal, which saw eGaming company Microgaming agree to underwrite the route.

He described this type of agreement as being ‘fairly unique’.

Mr Hayhoe declined to say how long the deal was in place for, but added: ‘The aim is for the route to become sustainable and profitable in its own right.’

He said there were a number of reasons to be positive that this would be the case – a stabilising European economy, growing onward business and leisure connections from London City, as well as good flight times on the route.

The first London City flight leaves the island at 7am with the last flight leaving at 6.10pm.

Returning to the island, the afternoon flight has been pushed back to 4.30pm, which Mr Hayhoe hoped would appeal to passengers.

Tickets for the new schedule have been on sale since January.

Mr Hayhoe said that since then bookings had been ‘fairly encouraging’.

Manx Business Connection is a company that specialises in helping business people, entrepreneurs and their companies to understand the island.

Announcing the agreement in January, John Webster, MBC’s chairman and non executive director of Microgaming, said: ‘The island must avoid complacency, and not take these new services for granted.

‘If there is insufficient use of the route, then BA CityFlyer will no doubt reconsider its position, and the guarantors cannot be expected to continue their support. We hope the business community will be flying BA to London City.’

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