Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus regional services, was today sold to an Isle of Man based start-up led by a 26-year-old self-styled entrepreneur for an initial outlay of just £2.
The agreement, in a complex deal which also involves the sale of Carlisle Lake District Airport, will enable owner Esken — the new name for Stobart Group — to focus on Southend Airport and its energy-from-waste business.
Stobart Air has a contract with Aer Lingus until December 2022 to operate a fleet of 13 aircraft, including for flights from Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Donegal and Kerry. However, a new deal was awarded to Emerald Airlines to run the operation from 2023.
Esken bought Stobart Air back from bankruptcy in April last year.
Today’s sale price is a token £2 and the value of cash on the balance sheet at completion, plus up to £7.5 million dependent on certain trigger events until July 2024.
The new owner is Ettyl, whose chief executive Jason Scales, 26, runs a blockchain and technology incubator based on the Isle of Man called The Hubb.
In its sole filing to Companies House, a certificate of incorporation filed in May 2020, Ettyl reported holding capital of £100.
Scales said today it would be “business as usual” for his new acquisitions, with the intention of retaining all staff including 480 jobs at Stobart Air.
He added: “Ettyl sees significant opportunities for increased regional connectivity as economies recover from the impacts caused by the pandemic and return to stability across the UK and Ireland.”
Esken chairman David Shearer said the sale of Stobart Air had been “a difficult and protracted process” due to the impact of the pandemic on air travel.
He said: “Stobart Air remains a critical part of connectivity between Ireland and the UK and I am pleased that we have managed to secure the future of that business and its 480 staff under a new owner with ambitions to grow its network of routes.
“The sale of the airline presents a significantly better financial outcome than that resulting from a closure.”