Buyer found for Air Southwest

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The Sutton Harbour Group has reached agreement to sell its airline subsidiary Air Southwest to Eastern Airways, the UK’s second largest regional airline.

Sutton Harbour announced in May that it intended to sell Air Southwest, so that it could concentrate resources on its core business of property regeneration and development.

Humberside-based Eastern Airways employs 420 staff and operates a fleet of 30 aircraft serving 21 destinations in the UK, Ireland, Norway and France carrying 700,000 passengers on 40,000 flights a year.

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Air Southwest will continue to fly under its existing brand and staff will continue to be employed by Air Southwest under existing terms and conditions, albeit with a change of ownership to Eastern Airways from the Sutton Harbour Group.

Nigel Godefroy, chief executive of the Sutton Harbour Group, said: “Our goal has been to reach an agreement which puts Air Southwest into good hands and I am confident that this deal with Eastern Airways does just that. Being part of a larger airline will bring stability to Air Southwest and that is good news for air travel to and from the far south west, and for Plymouth and Newquay airports.”

Richard Lake, managing director of Eastern Airways, said: “As market leaders in our respective catchments this deal makes perfect sense for Eastern Airways and gives us even greater reach across the UK. Air Southwest is well regarded by its customers and we want to ensure we retain that loyalty by continuing to offer excellent service and value for money.”

Air Southwest formed a strategic alliance with Eastern Airways in February this year enabling it to join the Global Distribution ticketing system (GDS) and broaden the sales channels through which its flights can be booked. This will continue to be rolled out to cover all Air Southwest routes as soon as technically possible.

Legal completion is expected to take place in October, subject to regulatory approval.