A fast-growing software company headquartered on the Isle of Man wants more businesses to offer financial support to British Airways (BA) in order to ensure the island’s travel connection with London is maintained.
Microgaming, which claims to have released the first genuine online casino in 1994, underwrote BA’s flight route between the Isle of Man and London City earlier this year, said it was vital to the island. The underwriting resulted in BA upping the service from one flight on weekdays to three per day.
However, Microgaming, used as the principle software developer by large online casino operators like 32Red and the Palace Group, believes that more Isle of Man businesses should now step in and give financial backing to BA.
Janine Woodford-Dale, head of marketing at Microgaming, said: “Microgaming has underwritten the BA route to London City but there’s certainly a need for other companies to get involved because it’s not realistic for one company, or a small handful, to underwrite that cost.”
By underwriting the route, Microgaming has agreed to pay British Airways any shortfalls. Microgaming was unable to specify how much this figure could be and British Airways declined to comment because the issue is “commercially confidential”.
The island is home to a number of other large eGaming firms, including Playtech, a multinational with revenues of £367 million, and PokerStars, which was bought by Amaya Gaming Group for $4.9 billion (£2.92 billion) in cash last week. Beyond eGaming, the island has a well established financial services industry, with PwC, KPMG, and Deloitte all boasting large offices in the capital of Douglas.
The deal was brokered with the help of business development and promotion organisation Manx Business Connection (MBC).
“MBC believes that a regular daily London flight service is essential to the continued growth and development of business and industry on the Island,” wrote MBC chairman John Webster in a blogpost.
“MBC wants to involve a wide range of companies in this guarantee arrangement, but the need for a quick agreement meant that it had to rely on Microgaming in the first instance.”
In the blogpost, Webster thanks Microgaming for their “very significant financial backing.”
Microgaming, which employs approximately 200 people in the Isle of Man and 1,500 worldwide, has pledged to underwrite the route for one year.
“We’re constantly over for meetings in London,” said Microgaming PR assistant Anna McChesney, pointing to a recent conference in London that saw 50 Microgaming staff use the route over the space of a few days. “Even if it’s just a connecting flight. We need that flight to get off the island.”
EasyJet operates two flights a day to London Gatwick, which is situated 30 miles south of the City of London, while London City Airport is based seven miles away.
Joe Hughes, managing director of data centre owner Wi-Manx, said: “I’ve been to City Airport three or four times in the last six months. It would be an inconvenience [if the route was removed] but if you turned it another way and said would you pay through the nose for it, the answer is probably we’d go via Gatwick.”
Stephen Timble, head of product for data centre provider Continent8, which hosts Microgaming’s products, added: “We would consider helping out Microgaming.”
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