Scottish airline Loganair has stepped in to safeguard 16 routes previously operated by the now collapsed Flybe – including two in and out of Belfast.
The routes in question link Belfast City Airport with Aberdeen and Inverness.
According to the airline, it will be adding nearly 400 new flights each week and has also opened a special recruitment line for former Flybe staff seeking to continue their aviation careers.
Loganair’s Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “The collapse of a long-standing airline like Flybe marks a desperately sad day, especially for the airline’s dedicated team of employees and for customers facing disruption to their journeys.
“By stepping in quickly with a comprehensive plan, Loganair is aiming to maintain essential air connectivity within the UK regions to keep customers flying, and to offer new employment to former Flybe staff members who are facing an uncertain future today.”
Flybe grounded all flights as it announced in the early hours of Thursday that it had ceased trading with immediate effect and that administrators had been appointed.
The airline provided almost 80% of flights from Belfast City Airport, flying to more than 14 destinations across the UK.
Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport, said: “Loganair will commence flights from Belfast City Airport to Aberdeen on 16 March 2020, and flights to Inverness will begin on 23 March 2020.
“We’re very happy that Loganair has been able to backfill these routes less than 24 hours after Flybe entered administration.
“There remains a strong demand for the network operated by Flybe and we expect further announcements from airlines in the coming days and weeks.”
The 16 routes being taken over by Loganair – from the Scottish airline’s existing base airports in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle – will be launched progressively over the next four months.
Flights on the first and largest group of the routes will start as early as Monday 16 March.
Loganair says it will be recruiting for additional pilots, cabin crew and engineers to be based at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle airports to support the expansion.
It is expected that over 100 new positions will be created across the four locations, and Loganair will be prioritising applications from former Flybe staff for all of these roles.
There will also be a small number of new head office support roles.
The chief executive added: “The plan represents the outcome of several weeks of behind-the-scenes contingency planning work, during which we’ve evaluated many routes and aircraft.
“It’s critical to the continued success of our own airline that we refrain from over-expansion, and that our growth can be delivered within our operational and financial means.
“I am confident that the plans being announced today are robust and sustainable.”