A freedom of information (FOI) investigation has revealed that there are “short-term opportunities to pick up [Heathrow Airport] slots without grandfather rights attached”. Further, the FOI response reveals Loganair has told the Isle of Man Government that “it is essential to secure long-term access to grandfathered slots to guarantee long-term continuity of the Isle of Man-Heathrow air service once again”.
Twenty return flights per week, IOM-LHR
The Loganair document, dated October 20, 2020, shares proposals for three return flights a day from the Isle of Man to London Heathrow for the coming summer.
Weekday services would depart IOM at 06:50, 13:15 and 17:10. Returning weekday flights would depart LHR at 08:50, 15:15, and 19:15.
On Saturdays, flights would depart IOM at 06:50 and 14:15. Returning Saturday flights would depart LHR at 08:50 and 16:15.
On Sundays, flights would depart IOM at 08:00, 14:15 and 17:10. Returning Sunday flights would depart LHR at 10:00, 16:15 and 19:15.
LHR flights by ATR-72
Over summer 2021, Loganair has proposed that the IOM-LHR flights would be operated by Loganair’s ATR-72 aircraft, which have a capacity for over 70 passengers. This would allow Loganair’s smaller, ATR-42 aircraft to operate from IOM to Liverpool, and provide patient transfer services on reguarly scheduled flights.
Loganair owns four modified ATR-42 aircraft which have capacity for extra-long seating space suitable for patients who have undergone hip and knee surgery, and who are not able to fly in normal aircraft seating arrangements. These aircraft are also used by Loganair on its Scottish Island services, where it conducts patient transfers.
The ATR-72 turboprop would replace the faster Embraer jet aircraft which is currently running from IOM-LHR until daylight savings starts at the end of March 2021.
Costs kept confidential
As part of the Isle of Man Government’s response to Freedom of Information requests, pricing and cost negotiations were kept secret. The IOM Government said:
The amount of financial assistance provided to Loganair is exempt from disclosure
under section 30 of the Act, which relates to economy and commercial interests. The
reasons why this exemption applies are as follows:
…We are satisfied that disclosing the information would likely be harmful to the economy and commercial interests of the Isle of Man. Our consideration of prejudice and its likelihood of occurring… is that disclosure of the amount of financial assistance may also cause harm to the commercial interests of Loganair and any other airline which may tender for similar service provision in the future.Letter from Department of Infrastructure, 26 January 2021
Failed negotiations with EasyJet?
The freedom of information investigation revealed that the Isle of Man Government also held discussions about paying an airline to operate an Airbus A320 flight between the Isle of Man and London Gatwick from 1 December 2020, to 27 March 2021. While the airline was not identified in the documentation, this airline is likely to be EasyJet, which reportedly operated over 200 Airbus A320 aircraft in 2020. EasyJet previously flew to the Isle of Man from 2012 until the Isle of Man Government belatedly closed the Isle of Man borders in response to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
However, EasyJet has not yet re-started operating flights from the Isle of Man to London Gatwick.