Eastern Airways have announced plans to provide Gibraltar with twice-weekly services operating from Birmingham and Southampton. The flights are scheduled to be launched from 24 and 28 May, respectively, on Mondays and Fridays for both destinations.
This will be the first scheduled passenger service to Gibraltar from Southampton (which has strong maritime, financial and tourism links to the British overseas territory), while the Midlands is restored four years after Monarch Airlines entered administration.
The good news follows Wizz Air’s launch of a new service from Luton Airport in December, and the decision by both British Airways and EasyJet to maintain flights to Gibraltar during the current lockdown.
The new Eastern Airways services will be operated on the airline’s Embraer 190 e-Jet fleet, which includes the type being based at Southampton for the first time. Fares start from £74.99 one-way, including taxes and a hold-bag as standard.
Announcing the launch, general manager Roger Hage said, “This marks a major development in the network Eastern Airways offers as our first regular scheduled service to the Mediterranean peninsula adjoining Spain. The new services see both our return to Birmingham Airport as an operator while extending the growing number of destinations served from our Southampton hub.
“With a quality array of hotels, beaches, water sports and heritage, this UK territory offers an exciting short-break destination aside from its role in UK business, notably financial services and maritime. With easy access to the south coast of Spain also a benefit, working together with HM Government of Gibraltar has enabled this to be the first service to be announced, supporting UK regional airports and their role in direct European connectivity.”
Welcoming Eastern Airways’s addition to Gibraltar Airport’s international schedule, minister for business, tourism, transport and the port Vijay Daryanani said, “I stated recently that I would be able to announce the addition of another airline with services to Gibraltar and therefore it gives me great pleasure to make this announcement of Eastern Airways today. The links with both Birmingham and Southampton will open up new catchment areas for Gibraltar.
“Work by this Government to ensure that the tourism sector recovers and flourishes after this pandemic does not stop. The news will no doubt be welcomed by the local business community and the tourism, retail and hospitality industries. This government is delivering air services to Gibraltar in an unprecedented manner and is committed to adding further routes and more carriers in due course.”
Speaking from the UK destination, Southampton Airport operations director Steve Szalay added, “The introduction of Eastern Airways’ first-ever service to Gibraltar is tremendous news and demonstrates the airline’s continued desire to grow its operations at Southampton Airport.
“This is also a new destination for the airport and a positive step forward given the challenging conditions our entire industry continues to face. We look forward to working with Eastern to develop this service further and welcoming the first passengers later this year, and indeed the basing of an Eastern Airways’ Embraer 190 aircraft to make this route and others possible.”
Tom Screen, aviation director for Birmingham Airport, also welcomed the “great news” that Eastern Airways would be back at Birmingham, offering customers the chance to fly direct to Gibraltar again. “Gibraltar is a popular destination among our leisure customers, for a sunny getaway, but also an important business route providing access to this British territory. We believe this route will be a sign of things to come as they develop their network further.”
Screen stressed that both Birmingham Airport and Eastern Airways have a “full enhanced cleaning structure in place and can reassure customers that their safety is of paramount importance”.
According to Eastern Airways, their services have been “carefully reintroduced, aligned to changes in COVID-19 restrictions, with extensive cleaning measures on-board and throughout all aspects of the airport for the safety of all passengers”.
Formed in 1997, the independent UK-based carrier currently serves UK hubs including Aberdeen, Anglesey, Belfast-City, Cardiff-Wales, Humberside, Leeds-Bradford, London Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay, Southampton and Teesside, with Birmingham, Dublin, Nantes, Rennes and now Gibraltar added this year.