Watchdog’s concerns over Isle of Man flight capacity

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Passenger watchdog TravelWatch has welcomed announcements by Flybe and BA which it says give greater certainty to island air services.

But it says the number of direct routes will have fallen from 20 three years ago to just 11 from March - and it is not just the loss of routes that will concern passengers but also the reduced capacity on many of the remaining services.

BA CityFlyer announced last week that flights on the island’s vital London City route will increase from one to three a day each week day.

The same week, Flybe confirmed it was retaining the three times a weekday lifeline service it operates to and from Liverpool, safeguarding the patient transfer service. It will also operate up to 39 return flights a week on its two other surviving routes – Birmingham and Manchester.

But TravelWatch say that while capacity on the Manchester route will be slightly increased, Liverpool will lose 13 round trips a week, representing a 33 per cent per cent loss in capacity over last summer. Combined capacity to the two airports will be down 17 per cent.

And Birmingham will drop from 12 flights a week to seven in the peak season with a morning flight from the island and only a mid-afternoon one from Birmingham.

This summer Flybe will not be flying to Gatwick or Luton, but easyJet will provide up to two Gatwick flights most weekdays but critically no Saturday services for much of July and August.

TravelWatch’s Dick Clague said passengers will find it increasingly difficult in booking convenient flights and booking ahead will be necessary to obtain preferred flights. He said fares are likely to rise as competition is reduced.

Mr Clague said: ‘It is vital the effect of all these developments is regularly reviewed so any further changes take into account needs of passengers.’

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