Emerald Air’s Conor McCarthy is not the potential buyer however
Talks with a potential buyer for Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air are at an advanced stage, the Irish Independent understands.
Owned by the UK’s Stobart Group, it has pledged to have sold the Dublin-based airline and a related leasing entity, Propius, by February.
But Irish aerospace entrepreneur Conor McCarthy, whose Emerald Airlines last month secured preferred bidder status to operate the Aer Lingus Regional service when Stobart Air’s franchise agreement expires at the end of 2022, is not the potential buyer.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr McCarthy, who also founded and owns aircraft maintenance firm Dublin Aerospace, said that neither he nor his new executive team at Emerald Airlines have had any discussions with Stobart Air or Stobart Group.
It was expected that Mr McCarthy – a former Stobart Air chairman - would have been a potential bidder for Stobart Air after securing preferred bidder status to provide the Aer Lingus Regional service.
Stobart Group chief executive Warwick Brady said last month that the company would be prepared to enter negotiations with the new Aer Lingus Regional franchisee “given the anticipated interest in those assets”.
Stobart Group declined to comment yesterday.
Mr McCarthy said Emerald Airlines is now in “advanced discussions” with five leasing companies to secure initial aircraft to operate the Aer Lingus Regional service when Stobart Air’s contract ends. Emerald previously said that it would eventually have a fleet of 15 ATR-72 aircraft.
Emerald is negotiating the lease of the ATR-72 turboprop aircraft on a so-called “power-by-the-hour” basis, before eventually moving to a full lease.
“We’re looking at power-by-the-hour to begin with, which allows for a flexible cost base as we ramp up,” said Mr McCarthy.
“We’ve got our senior management team in place and have also secured office accommodation,” he added.
Emerald Airlines might also eventually be able to hire air crews who are currently with Stobart Air or other operators. Emerald has already begun the process of securing regulatory licences here to provide services.
Stobart Group said last month that Stobart Air and Propius have burned through almost £15m (€16.6m) in cash since they were reacquired by the UK’s Stobart Group in April. The group has guaranteed up to $108m (€90m) of Stobart Air’s debt.