After barely four months plying Aberdeen-Newcastle-London City, Eastern Airways is about to suspend the route.
Flybe, who markets the route on behalf of Eastern, has removed direct/non-stop flight seat inventory from its website for travel after April 5. A spokesperson for Eastern confirmed to Business Traveller that there would be no flights after that date.
It is the second time that an airline has operated the Newcastle-London City sector. The previous attempt failed, and it seems this scenario has repeated itself.
Originally, as Business Traveller reported above, the route was purely Newcastle-London City.
Closer to launch date, Eastern decided to combine Newcastle-London with Aberdeen-London – see this piece from eveningexpress.co.uk.
That suggested advance bookings (for Newcastle-London) were below expectations. It also meant the service became less attractive for Aberdonians.
Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ General Manager Commercial and Operations, said: “Regrettably, we will be withdrawing the Aberdeen to London City and Newcastle to London City routes from April 7, 2019.
“We had adjusted the flying programme in January to operate the Aberdeen-London City route via Newcastle to also give a direct Newcastle-London City service on the aircraft in a bid to improve the route’s revenue performance.
“Disappointingly for all parties, the required fare yields to make such a service sustainable have not been achieved. We will amend our fleet disposition to better utilise the Saab capacity for contract charters and also on other parts of our network including Aberdeen to Humberside, Durham Tees Valley and Newcastle, which remains up to four flights a day in each direction.
“Affected passengers with bookings on or beyond April 7 will be offered a full refund.”
Flights between Newcastle and London City face stiff competition from rail services operated by LNER into Kings Cross station.
Eastern certainly wouldn’t have been able to match LNER’s frequency of having a train every 30 minutes.
Aberdonians recently lost their Easyjet service into London Gatwick, so any loss of another service so close to the capital is a blow.
On the other hand, Loganair is starting a new service between Aberdeen and London Southend on May 12.
This could be the reason why Eastern has decided to drop its London City service. Southend lies further from the capital, but Loganair’s service will be non-stop.
Why April 5, you might ask? I suspect it’s because of the Easter school holidays, a time when domestic business travel will be lower than usual.
Domestic flights are a challenge for any airline. For more background refer to our feature on UK domestic aviation which appeared in the February 2019 issue of Business Traveller.