The company formerly known as the Stobart Group has sold Carlisle Lake District airport and Stobart Air to Isle of Man-based company Ettyl.
Esken said in a statement that it had sold Carlisle airport for £15 million, while Stobart Air was offloaded for “£2 plus the value of any cash on the balance sheet payable at completion together with a contingent consideration of £7.5 million payable upon and to the extent of the occurrence of certain trigger events at any point up to July 1, 2024”.
The new owner Ettyl Ltd is headed up by Isle of Man entrepreneur Jason Scales, who said that “In the immediate term it will be very much business as usual in respect of both Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport’s operations”.
“We will be making further announcements over the coming weeks and months regarding our plans,” added Scales. “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.”
In 2019 Carlisle Lake District Airport restarted commercial passenger operations after a 26 year break.
As part of the deal Stobart Air will continue to operate its existing Aer Lingus Regional franchise until December 2022, and Ettyl said that “The intention is to retain all staff currently employed by Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport”.
Esken said that the sale “is subject to certain change of control and bank facility consents and is expected to complete by early May 2021”.
Back in 2019 the then Stobart Group had agreed to purchase regional carrier Flybe as part of the Connect Airways consortium with Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital.
Flybe subsequently entered administration in March 2020, and Stobart Group bought back its shareholding in Stobart Air from the administrators.
Stobart Group had planned to seek a new owner of the business by the end of February this year “following an anticipated extension of the Aer Lingus Franchise when it expires in December 2022”.
But a combination of Covid-19 lockdowns, and Aer Lingus’ decision to award preferred bidder status for the franchise extension to another party, had delayed proceedings.
Commenting on the news David Shearer, executive chairman, Esken, said:
“Our operations at CLDA were peripheral to the main focus of our Aviation business at London Southend Airport and we have taken this opportunity to tidy up our portfolio of businesses at a fair value in current markets allowing us to minimise future cash burn and avoid management distraction. I wish the new owners of both these businesses every success in the future.
“The completion of these transactions will allow management to focus on the core operations of Stobart Energy and London Southend Airport, along with the aviation services business. I will report further on our strategic objectives for these businesses when we release our results for the year to 28 February 2021.”
Full financial details of the transaction can be seen in this statement to the London Stock Exchange.