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Airline chief tells of 'terrible shock' at hearing news

THE head of the airline which ran the fatal flight, last night promised his company will do "everything we can" to help those affected by the disaster.

Manx2 chairman Noel Hayes said the incident had been a "terrible shock" at the firm.

A team from Manx2 were yesterday dispatched to Cork to investigate the incident.

"This has been a terrible day and our thoughts are, first and foremost, with the families of those who lost their lives, and those who were injured," Mr Hayes said.

"Manx2.com has never experienced anything like this in our five-year history and the tragedy has been a terrible shock to us all."

The air crew followed standard procedures in trying to land three times in thick fog, Mr Hayes said.

"It is sadly not unusual in terms of bad weather for aircraft to take three approaches. It is the standard.

The company is what is dubbed in the industry as a 'virtual airline', which markets the services and determines the routes but does not own the aircraft used.

The twice-daily service between Belfast and Cork was popular with business people. Manx2 was founded in 2006 and flies between Ireland, Britain and the Isle of Man.

It leases eight aircraft for flights in the UK and Ireland and carries over 100,000 passengers per year. The 19-seater Fairchild Metroliner was leased from Flightline BCN, a company based in Spain which also crewed the flight.

Flightline lost another aircraft in a fatal crash over the Mediterranean 10 years ago. All eight American passengers and two Spanish crew were killed when the Merlin IV jet vanished on a trip from Barcelona to Oran in Algeria.

Flightline's founder and owner Jorge Casas Perez yesterday held meetings over the Cork crash.

"Flightline operated and crewed the flight. The plane was owned by Air Lada and the tickets were sold to passengers by Manx2," a spokesperson said.

Air Lada could not immediately be reached for comment.

Irish Independent