UK officials have set in place contingency plans after Stobart Air, which operates a string of short-haul and services on behalf of Aer Lingus, British Airways and KLM, ceased trading and called in liquidators.

The collapse of the regional carrier has left thousands of passengers at risk of being stranded with a host of scheduled trips being cancelled.

British Airways and Aer Lingus have stated that they are to operate the services directly instead.

Stobart Air was part of London-listed Esken, an aviation and energy business that was previously called Stobart Group. It operated Aer Lingus regional services between Belfast, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, East Midlands, and Birmingham, as well as flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newquay to Dublin and Irish domestic routes from the capital to Donegal and Kerry.

Prior to the pandemic, Stobart Air also ran services for BA CityFlyer from London City Airport, and KLM Cityhopper from Amsterdam. The carrier had picked up several routes following the collapse of Flybe, Europe’s biggest regional airline, in March 2020.

Esken put Stobart Air up for sale in the hope of offloading expensive aircraft leasing contracts costing the group tens of millions of pounds.

A deal was struck in April to sell the airline for a nominal £2 to Ettyl, a start-up led by 26-year-old Isle of Man Bitcoin investor Jason Scales. Recently however, it was revealed in the UK press that police had been alerted to potential irregularities relating to the takeover. This followed an announcement by Esken that Mr Scales’ financing had fallen through.