Ian Woodley, an aviation advisor and former bmi regional (BM, Aberdeen Dyce) executive, is reportedly in talks to acquire Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air (RE, Dublin Int'l), unnamed sources have told the Irish Independent.

Andy Jolly, managing director of Stobart Air, is also understood to be involved in the talks alongside Woodley, and a UK-based private equity firm would provide financing for a deal, according to the newspaper.

In May 2012, Woodley led Sector Aviation Holdings, an Aberdeen-based consortium, when it bought bmi regional from IAG International Airlines Group (IAG later bought Aer Lingus in September 2015). He remained chairman and co-shareholder of the regional carrier until 2016. bmi regional eventually ceased operations in February 2019. Woodley was also founder and co-chairman of Business Air (United Kingdom) (II, Aberdeen Dyce) from 1990 to 2000.

Jolly, meanwhile, was chief operating officer at Loganair (LM, Glasgow Int'l) between 2007 and 2011, then general manager of Hebridean Air Services (HBR, Cumbernauld) until 2015 when he became COO at Stobart Air before becoming its managing director in July 2019.

As previously reported, UK company Esken Limited, formerly known as Stobart Group, has said it remains committed to offloading its Ireland-based production carrier Stobart Air and the affiliated Propius Leasing by the end of February.

Esken is also believed to have negotiated with other potential buyers including Falko Regional Aircraft, which also owns regional carrier CityJet (WX, Dublin Int'l). However, the process will have been made more difficult since Aer Lingus named the fledgeling Emerald Airlines (Ireland) as the preferred bidder to operate Aer Lingus Regional when the existing contract that Stobart Air holds expires at the end of 2022.

Stobart Air was not immediately available for comment while Esken declined to do so.