Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Passenger watchdog calls for Isle of Man government-run airline

Ronaldsway Airport terminal Image copyright MANX SCENES
Image caption Ronaldsway Airport is already owned by the Manx government

The establishment of a government-run airline on the Isle of Man should be "considered at the highest level [to] obtain the level of air services necessary", a travel watchdog has said.

A spokesman for TravelWatch Isle of Man (TWIoM) said such a service was needed to cater for the island's "social, business, medical and tourism needs".

Covid-19 restrictions have seen the island's air routes severely reduced.

The government has been contacted for a response.

At present, only routes between the island and Manchester, Liverpool and London are operating.

'Suffered badly'

In a statement, TWIoM said in order to secure services to fulfil the island's "social, business, medical and tourism needs", it was "almost inevitable that some sort of government support will be required by the operating airline".

"Surely this would be far better spent on setting up our own airline, able to make its own decisions and able to fly alongside the 'no frills low cost' services we currently enjoy... in a controlled and co-operative way."

The island had "suffered badly" in the past as a result of commercial airlines "making cuts to services and changes with little or no regard to the needs of the island community", it added.

"In the light of the fairly extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in, we feel that this is something which should be considered at the highest level, with an equally high degree of urgency."

About half of the flights to and from the Isle of Man were scrapped following the collapse of Flybe in March, followed by the grounding of many more flights during the pandemic.

The island's border has been closed to almost all new arrivals since 27 March.

The government took over ownership of the island's ferry company in 2018 and also owns the island's airport.

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