The airline Eastern Airways has announced that it will not be continuing its Gibraltar flights this winter after all, following discussions with the Gibraltar government. In a statement, the government said the talks were held at the airline's request and related to ensuring the long-term sustainability of their air services from Gibraltar.
Eastern Airways began running their flights between Gibraltar, Birmingham and Southampton this summer, and although the intention had been to continue them year-round, it was a difficult time to start the two new routes given the ongoing impacts of travel, including the Covid pandemic in particular. Therefore, in line with many operators of services throughout Europe, the winter schedule has been suspended and the flights are scheduled to start again in March 2022 for the summer season.
The general manager of Eastern Airways, Roger Hage, said it had been a difficult decision to take. "All airlines are adjusting their flying programs depending on the demand into winter. Covid restrictions have made this even more unpredictable. We also have to ensure the sustainability implications and act responsibly to ensure the routes to Gibraltar work long-term. Adopting a seasonal approach this year achieves this and ensures long-term considerations apply. We will continue to work proactively with the Gibraltar Government on the summer schedule for 2022," he said.
Gibraltar's Tourism Minister, Vijay Daryanani, said "It is disappointing for us to have less routes for the winter season but we need to look at the wider picture. Eastern Airways want to come back next summer. They need to protect their finances like any other business and I back their judgement. Having said this, our capacity for the winter months is excellent as British Airways has agreed to increase flights. This means we actually have more seats to the UK even after this suspension. I will continue working with Eastern Airways and look forward to welcoming them back in the summer".