The company behind Waterford's long-awaited UK flights has shut

Aer Southeast’s parent was shuttered months after renewed promises to launch the overdue service.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

THE COMPANY BEHIND planned new flights between Waterford and the UK has been shuttered less than 18 months after the long-awaited service was unveiled.

In June last year, Aer Southeast said that it would roll out flights linking Ireland’s south-east with London-Luton, Manchester and Birmingham.

It would have been the first commercial flights at Waterford since the troubled airport lost its only scheduled service in June 2016.

However, Aer Southeast was told to stop selling tickets after it ran into trouble with the Commission for Aviation Regulation for failing to secure the adequate licence to take bookings.

It claimed in February of this year that it secured the necessary documentation and would launch in 2018, however no announcements have been made since.

According to the Companies Registration Office, Aer Southeast parent company Skytruckers Ltd was recently dissolved.

Fora has contacted the company’s founder, Einar Adalsteinsson, for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. The airline’s website is no longer active.

Troubles

The future of Waterford Airport has been hanging in the balance since June 2016 when the Belgian parent of airline VLM went bankrupt and axed its Waterford to London-Luton service.

The airport currently hosts a coastguard helicopter and is available for use by private jets.

According to Waterford Airport’s latest annual report, it needs at least €12 million to build a bigger runway, which is key to its survival.

The airport’s board said a longer, wider runway would allow the hub to cater for more commonly used aircraft like the Boeing 737 favoured by Ryanair and the Airbus A320, the most common plane in Aer Lingus’s fleet.

According to local media reports, Waterford Airport recently applied for planning permission to extend the runway, but a planning application isn’t available on the local council’s website and the airport has declined to comment on the matter.

After losing the VLM flight in 2016, Waterford received a €1 million state grant that year to help cover its operational costs.

It received €375,000 in emergency State funding in January of this year to support the coastguard search-and-rescue service that’s based at the facility. The directors said they hope to receive a similar tranche of funding in September and January 2019.

A review on the future of the airport was recently completed by consultancy EY and has been sent to Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross for consideration.

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