05 August 2007

Astraeus cans London flights

Having only started offering the service in May, 2007, Astraeus announced last week it would be cancelling its twice weekly flights from St. John's to London in September.

The provincial government heralded the start of the flights in a news release last February.
"Our government worked closely with the St. John’s International Airport Authority in an aggressive campaign to attract a new supplier for this service and it is obvious today that this effort paid off," said Minister Hickey. "I applaud Astraeus Airlines for joining a growing list of organizations that view our province as a good place to do business. I also appreciate Astraeus’ expression of confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador and welcome them to this unique part of the world. I’m sure this will become a successful relationship."
In the photo, right, transportation minister John Hickey talks with Hugh Parry, managing director of Astraeus Airlines, during a news conference to introduce Astraeus' new year-round trans-atlantic service from St. John's to London, England. [Photo: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador]

Astraeus operates charter flights between Gatwick and Deer Lake to support the nearby Humber Valley Resort. The St. John's portion of the flights was an adjunct to that.

On July 20, The Independent, a newspaper published by the chief executive of Humber Valley's parent company, reported that
"Astraeus...intends to organize press trips for European journalists to travel to Newfoundland as a way to promote the province as a vacation destination. ("St. John’s is a gateway to a region which can truly be described as the great outdoors," [Astraeus' general manager of scheduled operations Richard] Cann says.)

There's no news release on the cancellation on Astraeus' website. In fact, the website still proudly boasts that "[t]hrice weekly scheduled flights to St John's commence on 27 May 2007 providing the only year round link between the UK and Newfoundland." One has to click on the St. John's page to find out the admission that flights end in September.

According to abtn.co.uk, an airline industry website:
The majority shareholder of Flystar – Astraeus is Northern Travel Holding ("Northern Travel"), created by the Icelandic investment groups, Fons (44%), FL Group (34%) and Sund (22%). Northern Travel also are the sole owners of Sterling Airlines, Iceland Express and Hekla Travel, the largest travel agent in Denmark, and own 29.3% of Ticket, the Swedish stock-market quoted travel agent.