It has been an eventful couple of days for Groningen Airport Eelde: flights to Copenhagen are back on, but GAE will be offering fewer London flights and half of the airport’s supervisory board announced they would be stepping down.
Translation by Traci White
UPDATE: 2:20 p.m., Monday, 14 January
The AIS Copenhagen flight will have room for 19 passengers and is primarily focused on business travellers, which is also reflected in the ticket prices, which will likely range between 249 and 359 euros.
Original text follows below:
Munich and Copenhagen
During a press conference on Monday afternoon, airport representatives announced that flights to Copenhagen would resume as of the 4th of March. Lelystad-based airline AIS will begin offering two daily flights between Eelde and Copenhagen on a Jetstream 32.
The airport was dealt a heavy blow in December when Estonian-based airline Nordica announced it would stop operating its Copenhagen and Munich flights due to lacklustre passenger numbers. Both of the destinations, along with Southend, are covered by a route funds to limit financial risks for participating airlines, but Nordica itself had been cutting back on the number of routes it flies in Europe because of “low demand” and “a lot of competition” in cities like Amsterdam and Oslo.
The Groninger Internet Courant reported over the weekend that Groningen Airport Eelde would be cutting back from 18 flights to London Southend a week to 11 flights starting on the 31st of March. The flights were not attracting enough passengers, and GAE spokesperson Bowy Odink says that the airport is more interested in having 11 full flights than 18 partially full flights.
FlyBe, a British airline based in Exeter, carries out the London Southend flights, but the flights are operated by Stobart Air, which owns the Southend airport. It was announced on Friday that FlyBe would be taken over by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Aviation. FlyBe has been struggling financially and has been up for sale since late last year. According to Business Traveller, the airline will now become part of a new subsidiary, Connect Airways.
Eelde operated one daily flight to Southend for years, and began offering three daily flights at 7:10 a.m., 10:55 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. last year. RTV Drenthe reports that the FlyBe booking system shows that the early morning flight on weekdays and one of the two daily flights on Saturday and Sundays cannot be booked starting on the 31st of March.
Supervisory board resignations
On Monday morning, two members of the business council of Groningen Airport Eelde – Karin Orsel and Frits Doddema – announced that they would be stepping down. Orsel told Dagblad van het Noorden that she and Doddema disagreed with the rest of the council’s plans for the future of the airport, but declined to elaborate on what specific topics the members failed to see eye to eye on. Orsel is the director of MF shipping in Delfzijl and Doddema is the CEO of Monti, a tools manufacturer based in Germany.
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that political representatives in Groningen and Drenthe expressed their surprise and concern about the board resignations. The provinces and the municipalities of Assen, Groningen and Tynaarlo are all shareholders in the airport.