Routes are 90% marketing and the small matter of staff, an aeroplane and permission to do the route. And while my suspicion that the Derry to Dublin route was going to get shelved goes way back before a Brexit vote, Brexit is the very reason used as to why it’s not going ahead. I’ve yet to see one shred of evidence to support that.
Was It Ever Going To Happen?
Well there was a subsidy application in late 2015. Citywing operating with aircraft from Van Air Europe, Citywing don’t own aircraft they are classed as a “virtual airline” where they take the bookings and Van Air Europe hold the routes, the air operator’s certificate and provide the planes, crew, maintenance and insurance.
So the real negotiation has nothing to do with Citywing and everything to do with Van Air Europe. Digging around for that info though is hard work.
Yes, it was in the works to happen though I feel the press might have jumped on it a wee bit too soon. Nothing at that point was set in stone.
City of Derry Needs Good News Stories
I’ve posted before about City of Derry Airport and what I think needed to happen to revive it’s place in Northern Ireland as a viable route and destination. And the shelving of the original route to Dublin in 2011 (operated by British Airways but provided by Logan Air) did not help matters. It stopped for the reason many routes stopped, the subsidy ran out.
It’s no surprise CoD pushed the PR boat out. The headlines about the route starting in April 2016 filtered to the press and everyone in Co. Londonderry smiled. Thing is these things are never straightforward.
While there is evidence of the subsidy application happening I’ve yet to see any firm response or confirmation of a subsidy. Chances are it gets hard to find that info as there’s due diligence and legals that you’d not be putting online.
Bad News, Blame It On Brexit
It’s now in fashion, there’ll be a four page Vogue special feature soon, to blame things not happening on Brexit. For CoD to blame Brexit on this, well I don’t buy it. Things started to seep out slowing in March…
All that time though Citywing were pushing the LDY > DUB route on their website, you just couldn’t book anything. So there was probably another reason. There were three potential reasons I believe, first of all Citywing realised the route wasn’t commercially viable, especially if the subsidy wasn’t going to happen. So they spent a lot of time mulling over on what to do. At this point, we still don’t know if the subsidy was offered or not.
Secondly, when your airline has four aircraft then route planning becomes a logistical operation. It’s just not Northern Ireland, it’s the Isle of Man, it’s Cardiff and all the other route combinations. It’s a fun maths problem, but that’s not what I’m going to do now.
Thirdly and most importantly, you need pilots to operate plans….. Van Air were on the look out as late as May.
While Van Air don’t say the routes the pilot would be operating, Van Air also fly out of Belfast City Airport, there’s that good chance it was to fulfil new routes.
City of Derry cited “technical problems” in the Mark Patterson Facebook thread.
Technical problems are usually down to the wings falling off the plane or you can’t find someone to fly it. I’m going for the latter.
Until I see some actual evidence of Brexit being a problem for this route then I shall remain skeptical about the reasons.