Stobart, the company that owns Aer Arann, has announced it has signed a new deal with Flybe to fly six routes to continental Europe out of London's Southend airport. Last week it was announced that the Aer Arann name will go and the airline will be renamed Stobart Air. Over the last few years the airline has emerged as a franchise operator, mainly operating the Aer Lingus Regional service. It operates 27 routes across Ireland, UK and France and Stobart Air wants to double its passenger numbers to under three million within five years. 

Sean Brogan, the airline's interim chief executive, says that the five year deal with Flybe is its second franchise deal in the last couple of years and will add 100,000 passengers to its operations. The airline has reported a 55% increase in passenger numbers four years and Mr Brogan says that there is room for further growth from Southend. 
The new deal with Flybe will see the creation of 50 new jobs at the London airport, but Mr Brogan says that the deal will need support from its headquarters in Santry in Dublin. The airline currently employs 420 people.

Employers group Ibec's new campaign - An Ireland That Works - puts forward five ideas about areas where action is needed as the country goes through its next phase of recovery.  Broadly it wants to see the tax burden reduced, better government, investment in the future, an extending of Ireland's global reach and promotion of enterprise and entrepreneurship. It also says we need to ensure Irish interests are protected in the international tax debate. 

Ibec's Director of Business Representation Mary Rose Burke says that the Government needs to act as the country is simply not working as it should be across a range of important areas. She says the the tax burden needs to be reduced as Ireland is out of line internationally with people on average earnings entering the higher marginal tax rate at too low a level. The tax burden is proving to a drag on employment, and makes it more difficult to attract mobile talent here, she adds.

Datalex - which designs ecommerce platforms for the travel sector, including airlines - said its revenue grew last year by 18% to $38.1m, with profit after tax up 43% to $1.6m.  Its systems process over 75 million bookings a year and last year it signed deals with airlines like JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic. 

Aidan Brogan, Datalex's chief executive, says that 2013 was a fantastic year for the company both operationally and financially. To this end, it has decided to pay its first ever dividend of two cents, Mr Brogan said. In 2014, the company is set to open a new office in Beijing where it is planning a huge expansion. 

MORNING BRIEFS -  Bord Gáis Energy is to be sold to a consortium made up of Centrica, Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners and Icon Infrastructure in a deal worth €1.1 billion.  All Bord Gáis Energy staff will transfer to the new group and the State will retain ownership of the natural gas network, which transports gas, as the Government believes that this is strategically important. 

*** The Walt Disney company is buying Maker Studios, one of YouTube's biggest networks, for $500m. The deal will see Disney become a major online video distributor and should help draw more teens into the Disney entertainment empire. Disney said the price tag could rise to $950m if Maker hits certain performance milestones. 
Maker Studios, founded in in 2009, claims to have more than 5.5 billion monthly video views and 380 million subscribers across its channels.