*****UPDATE: It now appears Eastern Airways will not return to the Cardiff-Belfast route. Flight information for future dates has been removed from its website. We have contacted Eastern Airways for comment. It is unclear if another airline(s) will replace Eastern.*****
Wales has lost its direct link with Belfast, with Eastern Airways pulling off the Cardiff-Belfast route, albeit temporarily, from this weekend.
As we reported in October 2020 Eastern Airways was gearing up to launch a daily (except Saturday) service.
Some of you will know the Humberside-based airline runs a tight ship and is known for changing its routes and schedules.
Its Cardiff-Belfast route had latterly been operating a weekend-only service which, of course, is of little interest to the corporate market.
Previously Roger Hage, GM for commercial and operations at Eastern Airlines, had said:
“Eastern Airways is all about supporting the regions of the UK connecting people and places.”
Although Eastern Airways says it will return in March there is no guarantee this will happen. From experience I know that when airlines say they suspend flights it’s often as a means to soften the blow with the local community.
It remains to be seen whether or not Aer Lingus will take over the route. In May 2021 we reported that Stobart Air (now integrated within Aer Lingus) would be operating Cardiff-Belfast but that service no longer exists.
Cardiff has suffered from a lack of customers in recent times. The government-owned airport was affected by the collapse of Flybe in 2020 and, more recently, by Wizz Air.
In December 2020 we reported that Wizz Air was to open a Cardiff base serving no fewer than nine routes effective March 2021. That date was later postponed to July.
Yet just 24 hours after confirming it would open its Cardiff base in July, Wizz Air decided against the decision.
Cardiff then lost Qatar Airways which withdrew its Doha (and beyond) service from the start of the pandemic. Qatar Airways has yet to return despite it being granted ‘help’ by the Welsh government.
Meanwhile Welsh travellers wishing to fly Cardiff-Belfast route will have to cross the border and fly Easyjet from Bristol.