Airlink takes flight again; WAG confirms Manx airline is to run service.
Byline: ERYL CRUMP
THE North-South Wales airlink will resume next month after a new airline was appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government, officials confirmed last night. Manx2 Airlines, along with its partner carrier FLM Aviation, will operate the twice weekday service for seven months from May 10.
Passengers will be able to make bookings on the service shortly.
Assembly officials will be undertaking a further tendering exercise at the European level to appoint an operator for a four-year contract.
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "I am pleased to announce that Manx2 will be running the North-South airlink. This is a vital service which helps to secure economic, social and political cohesion in Wales, as well as supporting economic development in north-west Wales.
"I made a commitment that the Assembly Government would take action to maintain this service and we have now achieved this.
"As I have said before, the Cardiff to Anglesey service has been hugely popular, with passenger numbers far exceeding our expectations.
"Manx2 is an established operator with a proven track record, who already have experience of operating the service on those occasions when Highland Airways had operational difficulties.
"The Assembly Government is committed to maintaining this vital service and we look forward to working with Manx2 to build on its success."
Noel Hayes, chairman of Manx2, said: "As a Celtic neighbour, Manx2.com is delighted to have been chosen to reconnect Cardiff and Anglesey. With our home base just 50 miles away across the Irish Sea, we're excited about the prospect of bringing our award-winning service and our record of reliability and punctuality to this essential community route."
Manx2, which launched operations in May 2006, operate regular flights from the Isle of Man to Blackpool, Gloucester and Belfast using a fleet of 19-seat Dornier 228s.
They have been successful in operating flights from smaller airports like Gloucester which lies near the M5 motorway allowing easy access to Birmingham and Bristol.
Hundreds of passengers had their flights cancelled last month after Highland Airways called in administrators after failing to find new investors.
More than 100 people lost their jobs in the process.
The airlink is subsidised to the tune of pounds 800,000 a year by the Welsh Assembly Government, and Highland's contract was due to end on May 7. A tendering process for a new four-year contract using a bigger aircraft had failed, and Assembly officials had sought a temporary deal until fresh bids could be sought.
Since its launch in May 2007 the service had carried nearly 40,000 passengers, far exceeding projections for the route.
Meanwhile, Manx2 are also believed to be considering scheduled flights between the Isle of Man and Hawarden.
The airline operated flights between the two airports last year under contract to the Manx health authorities, bringing patients for hospital appointments in Liverpool.
Although the flights ended after a few months, it's understood the airline was happy with the facilities available at Hawarden, which has no other scheduled flights.
Ieuan Wyn Jones