Stobart Air (RE, Dublin Int'l) is evaluating its options regarding expansion in Europe, which include both acquisitions and new franchise agreements, non-executive Chairman Conor McCarthy has told The Belfast Telegraph.

The Irish production carrier currently operates for Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) under a franchise agreement, chiefly on services between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, although it also operates two domestic services in Ireland connecting Dublin Int'l with each of Donegal and Kerry. It also operates a flybe. (BE, Exeter) franchise wherein it various routes out of London Southend, the airport owned by parent Stobart Group. In addition, Stobart operates certain routes from the Isle of Man on behalf of flybe. under a wet-lease agreement.

The chairman did not reveal any details as to when or where Stobart Air would expand nor did he specify whether the potential partners are located in continental Europe.

McCarthy, who had earlier work with Ryanair, easyJet, and AirAsia, has also emphasised that the airline is looking forward to adding jet capacity. Stobart Air plans to add three ex-flybe. E195s in the coming weeks, which will supplement its current fleet of seventeen Avions de Transport Régional turboprops - two ATR42-300s, two ATR72-500s, and thirteen ATR72-600s. As of this moment, it is not planning to add any further aircraft.

"We have sufficient aircraft for our current committed plans. However, we will continue to review our requirements and opportunities for further growth," Graeme Buchanan, Managing Director at Stobart Air, told ch-aviation in an e-mailed statement.