Stobart Air, which flies as Aer Lingus Regional, has been sold in a deal that will see its previous owners pay £49 million to take the airline off its hands.
The buyer is Ettyl, a new company registered in the Isle of Man. Ettyl will be paid the net sum “to divest the assets over the next three years”.
In addition, Ettyl has paid £15 million for Carlisle Lake District airport. Both were acquired from Esken, previously known as Stobart Group.
Esken is selling its “non-core” aviation assets to concentrate on its ownership of Southend airport. Stobart Air’s Aer Lingus Regional franchise is due to end in December 2022, when new Irish carrier Emerald Airlines is due to take over.
Ettyl, which is Manx Gaelic for “to fly”, was incorporated in May 2020 and lists chief executive Jason Scales as sole director. Scales is in his mid-twenties and a “blockchain and crypto mining” entrepreneur who established The Hubb, the Isle of Man’s blockchain incubator.
A spokesperson said: “Jason set up Ettyl initially to provide affordable direct flights to the Isle of Man for major events, such as the Isle of Man TT and to popular Northern European destinations for residents that live in the Island.”
Scales added: “In the immediate term it will be very much business as usual in respect of both Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District airport’s operations and our deal ensures that the great teams within those businesses are retained.
“We will be making further announcements over the coming weeks and months regarding our plans. Ettyl sees significant opportunities for increased regional connectivity as economies recover from the impacts caused by the pandemic and return to stability across the UK and Ireland.”
David Shearer, Esken executive chairman, added: "Stobart Air remains a critical part of connectivity between Ireland and the United Kingdom and I am pleased that we have managed to secure the future of that business and its 480 staff under a new owner with ambitions to grow its network of routes,” he said.
“The sale of the airline presents a significantly better financial outcome than that resulting from a closure.
“Our operations at Carlisle were peripheral to the main focus of our aviation business at London Southend airport and we have taken this opportunity to tidy up our portfolio of businesses at a fair value in current markets allowing us to minimise future cash burn and avoid management distraction.”