ronaldsway The last Easyjet flight to Manchester this summer will fly on Thursday.

The route has been axed until November.

The airline gave passengers just over a week’s notice about its change in policy.

It is understood that the Department for Enterprise was only briefly consulted about the plans to cut the route, and Easyjet customers were not given any advance notice about their flights before the public announcement.

Member of the Department for Enterprise Rob Callister MHK said: ‘Any loss of a route is a concern for tourism, especially when we’re in the recovery stage and trying to rebuild our tourism back up again after two years of absence [during the pandemic].

‘I am concerned by it, and questions have been raised within the department and conversations with Easyjet have taken place.

‘But there are problems with the whole aviation industry at the moment, it’s not only the Isle of Man. It’s across the UK, as airports and airlines try to re-open after the disruption of almost two and a half years.’

The island has an ‘open skies’ policy which means the island has a free market in air services, with no obligation for any airline to maintain a minimum service.

The Manx Independent asked Mr Callister whether the way that Easyjet is able to add and remove essential services for its own benefit reflected badly on the open skies policy.

He said: ‘I was chairman of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee that looked at open skies in the last administration.

‘And I think as chairman back then I actually said that I would welcome a review of the open skies policy, and maybe look at a hybrid model where sometimes open skies does work, but other times a tender process to secure the routes that the island needs for business and for tourism would actually make a big difference.

Mr Callister continued: ‘So if we actually work with airlines, if we needed say for example a route to London for business, so we have a flight going in the morning and a flight returning in the evening, maybe open skies may not work on that route, and so maybe we’d need to look at a hybrid or licensed model.

‘And the same for tourism, if we take tourist routes like Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, then we need to make sure that those flights are regular, and they arrive on and off the island every time they fly basically.’

An Easyjet spokesman said: ‘Easyjet is operating up to 1,700 flights carrying up to a quarter of a million customers a day.

‘There are industry-wide operational issues that are impacting airlines at the moment, which means we are making a number of pre-emptive cancellations for the summer, including flights between the Isle of Man and Manchester between July 1 until the end of October and the route will recommence at the start of November.

‘We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause.

‘We are informing customers directly in advance to minimise the impact on their plans and providing the option to receive a refund or voucher, or rebook for free to a later date, and our customer service hours have been extended to support affected customers.

‘Easyjet remains absolutely focused on our daily operation and continues to monitor this very closely.’

Some Easyjet passengers have been offered alternative flights to Liverpool.

Loganair still operates to Manchester.

Source: iomtoday.co.im