Stobart gets set to face Aer Lingus challengers
Stobart Air is likely to face at least two challengers when a contract to operate the Aer Lingus Regional service comes up for grabs in the next few years.
Stobart Air currently holds a 10-year contract with IAG-owned Aer Lingus that sees it operate the Aer Lingus Regional service on behalf of the larger carrier on a franchise basis.
A new wet lease operator, Hibernian Airlines, which was founded in Dublin last year, is among those now eyeing business with Aer Lingus.
The CEO of Dublin-based CityJet, Pat Byrne, has also previously said he would be interested in tendering for the franchise contract.
Hibernian Airlines is owned by Spain's Air Nostrum, which is controlled by building materials group Nefinsa and Spanish bank Caja Duero.
Air Nostrum has been a partner of Spain's Iberia airline, also owned by IAG, for more than 20 years.
It currently operates a large number of routes on a franchise basis for Iberia.
Air Nostrum executive Miguel Oliver told industry publication 'Flight Global' in April that Hibernian Airlines hopes to have an Irish air operator's certificate by the end of this year.
He said Hibernian Airlines will be used by Air Nostrum to secure wet lease contracts in central and northern Europe and that it will also try to win business from Aer Lingus.