|Comedian Ken Dodd, Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ ground services manager and Kevin Brown, managing director of both Aberdeen and Southampton airports, aren’t about to give this jet a spring clean, but are waving off Liverpool’s first Eastern Airways services from Liverpool to Aberdeen and Southampton (both served by three flights each weekday).|
UK regional airline Eastern Airways operates a fleet of 21 29-seat Jetstream 41s and eight 50-seat Saab 2000s. The airline grew dramatically when it inherited routes and aircraft from British Airways CitiExpress from March 2003 onwards. For the last four years it has carried between 400,000 and half a million passengers per annum on primarily UK domestic routes. Average annual load factors during this period have been between 42% and 46% according to figures published by ERA. Aircraft utilisation is also relatively low with CAA data showing that each aircraft operates on average just three hours per day.
In the first quarter of 2009 ERA reports that passenger numbers for the airline were down 20.4% to 86,900 while the average load factor was 40.6%. However, this week the airline has added Liverpool to its route network with the launch of thrice-daily flights to both Aberdeen and Southampton. At a stroke, Liverpool becomes the airline’s fourth busiest base of operations.
|In January Oslo became the airline’s twelfth route from Aberdeen (daily flights except Saturday).|
Aberdeen busiest base; London, Manchester routes dropped
A comparison of the airline’s schedule data for this July and last July reveals that Aberdeen remains the airline’s busiest base of operations by some distance. The airline operates more scheduled routes from Aberdeen (13) than any other airline but offers less weekly capacity from the airport than British Airways (with its single route to London Heathrow) and Flybe.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 July 2008 and w/c 6 July 2009|
The airline currently operates to 17 airports, 15 in the UK and Oslo and Stavanger in Norway. Since last summer routes to Manchester (from Inverness and London Stansted) have both been dropped resulting in the elimination of all three airports from the airline’s route network. The Manchester – Stansted service was started in October 2007 when airberlin pulled off the route. A four-times weekly service from Southampton to Angers in France (which began in November 2007) has also been axed.
Aberdeen to Stavanger services were launched in August 2007 against SAS, Widerøe and City Star, while the airline’s second Norwegian destination, Oslo, was added to the network this January.