Stobart Air, the franchise flying partner to leading airlines including Aer Lingus and Flybe, has announced a €25 million investment in the airline which is being seen as a major vote of confidence in its future.

The airline’s operates under the Aer Lingus Regional brand in Ireland with the Donegal – Dublin service among its routes.

While the bulk of the investment will centre on its hub at London Southend Airport, there will be positive knock-on affects for Donegal.

Indeed, welcoming the news, Donegal TD Pat the Cope Gallagher said that he will be talking to the airline chiefs about any possible development of additional services for Donegal Airport.

Speaking to the Post, he said he would like to see if there could be a possible weekend service directly from Donegal to London Southend.

Whether this materialises would depend on a number of factors, and the relatively restricted length of the airport runway in Carrickfinn could influence decisions.

However, news of the investment is being widely welcomed.

The airline operates a fleet of 17 aircraft with routes across Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Kerry and Donegal Airport in Ireland.

Stobart Air is on track to carry two million passengers in 2017 - a 50% increase in passenger numbers over the past five years.

As part of a franchise agreement with Lingus, in 2016 it flew over 1.45million passengers.

The investment package will be centred around its London Southend Airport hub and will lead to the creation of 60 new jobs, the addition of jet aircraft to its fleet and new senior management appointments.

The airline made the announcement as it signalled the next phase of its growth strategy - a three-year plan to further develop and grow the airline.

The Stobart Air route network has recently expanded with extended Flybe operations at London Southend Airport.

The airline will also expand its fleet, for the first time adding jet aircraft to its operations. 2017 will see the addition of two Embraer E195s, allowing Stobart Air to fly more passengers on longer distances. The new jets will operate routes from London Southend Airport.

A Donegal to London Luton service, which returned via Sligo, operated during the summer of 1995.

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