Aer Lingus is the flag carrier airline of Ireland. Based at Dublin Airport, it operates 41 Airbus aircraft serving Europe, Africa and North America. The airline is 29.4% owned by Ryanair and 25.4% owned by the Irish government; it was floated on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges on 2 October 2006, following prior government approval (the government previously owned 85% of the airline). Aer Lingus is a former member of the Oneworld airline alliance, which it left on 31 March 2007. While Aer Lingus is not in an alliance it has extensive codeshares with Oneworld and SkyTeam members. The company employs 4,000 people and in 2007 had revenues of €1.3 billion. Aer Lingus transferred 9.3 million passengers in 2007. It has a mixed business model, operating a low fare service on its European and North African routes and full service, two-class flights on transatlantic routes. The company motto is Enjoy your flight.
Later that year, the airline acquired its second aircraft, a De Havilland 86 Express (DH86A) named "Éire", a four engined biplane with a capacity of 14 passengers. This aircraft provided the first air link between Dublin and London by extending the Bristol service to Croydon. At the same time, the DH84 Dragon was used to inaugurate an Aer Lingus service on the Dublin-Liverpool route.
The airline was established as the national carrier under the Air Navigation and Transport Act (1936). In 1937, the Irish government created Aer Rianta (now called Dublin Airport Authority), a company to assume financial responsibility for the new airline and the entire country's civil aviation infrastructure. In April 1937, Aer Lingus became wholly owned by the Irish government via Aer Rianta.
In January 1940, a new airport was completed in the Dublin suburb of Collinstown and Aer Lingus moved their operations there. A new DC-3 was bought and new services to Liverpool and an internal service to Shannon were inaugurated. The airline's services were curtailed during World War II with the sole route being to Liverpool or Barton Aerodrome Manchester depending on the fluctuating security situation.
In 1947, Aerlínte Éireann came into existence with the purpose of operating transatlantic flights to New York from Ireland. Three new Lockheed Constellations were ordered but a change of government and a financial crisis prevented the service from starting. Eamon De Valera, the incoming Fianna Fail Taoiseach (Prime Minister), was not a keen supporter of air travel and thought that flying the Atlantic was too grandiose a scheme for a small airline from a small country like Ireland. The Constellations were then sold to BOAC. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Aer Lingus introduced new routes to Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome. Because of the expanding route structure the airline became one of the first to order Vickers Viscount 700s in 1951, placed in service in April 1954. In 1956, Aer Lingus introduced a new, green-top livery with a white lighting flash down the windows and the Irish flag displayed on each plane's fin.
On 28 April 1958, Aerlínte Éireann operated the first transatlantic service from Shannon to New York. Three Lockheed Super Constellations were used for the thrice-weekly service. The aircraft were leased from the American airline Seaboard and Western while Irish cabin crews were used. This arrangement continued until 1 January 1960 when Aerlínte Éireann was renamed Aer Lingus - Irish International Airlines. Aer Lingus entered the jet-age on 14 December 1960 when three Boeing 720s were delivered for use on the New York route, as well as for the newest Aer Lingus destination, Boston.
In 1963, Aer Lingus added Carvair's to the fleet. With this aircraft, five cars could be transported by loading them into the fuselage through the nose of the aircraft. The Carvair proved to be uneconomic for the airline, partly due to the rise of car ferry services by sea and the aircraft were then used for freight services until disposed of. The Boeing 720s proved to be a success for the airline on the transatlantic routes. In 1964, Aer Lingus took delivery of the larger Boeing 707.
In 1968, flights from Belfast in Northern Ireland to New York were started. The service was soon suspended due to the beginning of the Troubles in the area. 1969 saw the introduction of Boeing 737s to the Aer Lingus fleet to cope with the high demand for flights between the cities of Dublin and London. Aer Lingus later extended the 737 flights to all of their European network.
In September 1979, Aer Lingus became the first airline other than Alitalia to be used by Pope John Paul II. The pontiff flew aboard a specially modified Boeing 747 (EI-ASI or St. Patrick) from Rome to Dublin and later from Shannon to Boston. In the early 1980s the 707s were phased out.
In 1984, a fully-owned subsidiary, Aer Lingus Commuter, was formed so that Aer Lingus could fly to larger cities in Ireland and Britain whose flying time from Dublin did not require jet planes. These services were operated primarily by five of the Belfast-built Shorts 360 after conducting a trial with the Shorts 330. Around this time Aer Lingus purchased a majority sharehold in the cargo airline Aer Turas, owner of some DC-8 freighter jets.
Between 1987 and 1989, new Boeing 737s arrived to replace the older ones, and 6 Fokker F50s were added to the Commuter fleet. During 1990, after the passage of the deregulation act for the airline industry in Ireland, Aer Lingus had to reconsider its operational policies. The BAC 1-11s were retired and 5 new 737s arrived. In 1991, 4 Saab 340Bs arrived at the commuter division to replace the Shorts 360 planes. By 1992 Aer Lingus's entire original 737-200 fleet had been replaced and was now the first operator in the world of all three versions of the second generation 737. These were the -300, -400 and -500 series, although the -300 did not last long in Aer Lingus service.
On 1 February 2001, Aer Lingus Commuter was merged back into the mainline operation. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001 Aer Lingus' business was severely reduced. Staff numbers were cut, destinations were dropped and the fleet was reduced. The airline has since weathered the storm and is back in profit - this has largely been achieved through a strategy of lowering the airline's cost base, updating the fleet with modern Airbus equipment and developing new routes to mainland European destinations (Aer Lingus had previously largely neglected mainland Europe in favour of US and British destinations). They are currently positioning themselves as competition to the European [[no-frills airlines while offering intercontinental flights as well. Business class travel for short haul flights has been phased out. Cargo services remain on a small number of routes.
On 27 October 2005, Aer Lingus announced their first scheduled service to Asia from March 2006 as Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, where Chief Executive Dermot Mannion was based when at Emirates Airline. Despite the Aer Lingus press release describing it as the first long haul service outside the United States, there had in fact been a previous service to Montreal, Canada from 1966-1979. The great circle distance of is comparable to the current service to Chicago but Los Angeles remains Aer Lingus' longest route at . At the same time Mr. Mannion linked the funding of new long haul aircraft to replace the A330 fleet with the privatisation of the airline The Dubai service ceased in March 2008 as the airline sought to increase its market share in the newly liberalised transatlantic market. On 29 October 2005, Aer Lingus withdrew its last two Boeing 737 aircraft from service. EI-CDH (a 737-500) operated the last sectors from Dublin to Nice, France and back. The aircraft and its sister ship EI-CDG now operate for Rossiya in Russia. This marked the end of Boeing content within Aer Lingus' fleet.
On 6 June 2007 Aer Lingus strengthened its relationship with the European manufacturer by ordering 6 of the new A350 XWB as well as 6 A330-300E aircraft. These will be used to expand Aer Lingus' long haul operations as well as replacement aircraft for 3 older models. Deliveries of the A330E will begin in 2009 and the A350 XWB will begin in 2014.
The company began conditional (or "grey-market") share dealings on 27 September 2006 and was formally admitted to the Official Lists of the Irish Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange on 2 October 2006. At the time of the flotation the Irish government maintained a 28% shareholding, while employees held 15%.
Aer Lingus withdrew from the Oneworld airline alliance on 1 April 2007, however it intends to maintain strong bilateral links with various Oneworld members and has no intention of joining any other global alliance. On 19 November 2006, Aer Lingus declared that it would shortly announce agreements with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The decision to leave the alliance was due to Aer Lingus repositioning itself as a low-fares point to point carrier, which is at odds with Oneworld's pitch to the premium international frequent flyer, and the cost involved for Aer Lingus with the acceptance of new members to the alliance. On 6 February 2007, however, the airline announced its intention to form a new alliance with JetBlue Airways. This new alliance will be a weblink between the two airlines, meaning Aer Lingus customers will be able to book JetBlue destinations from the Aer Lingus website, and vice versa for JetBlue for customers. In 2008, it also announced a strategic alliance with United Airlines for connecting services within the continental US.
With the flotation of Aer Lingus on the stock exchange, Aer Lingus is planning to expand its route network. New destinations to Europe and North America are planned, and further destinations to Asia also.
On 29 November 2006, Ryanair confirmed it had taken its stake to 26.2% of the airline.
On 21 December 2006, Ryanair announced it was withdrawing its current bid for Aer Lingus, with the intent of pursuing another bid in the near future after the European Commission finishes investigating the current bid. The EC has been concerned that the takeover would reduce consumer choice and increase fares.
On 27 June 2007, the European Commission announced their decision to block the bid on competition grounds saying the two airlines controlled more than 80% of all European flights to and from Dublin airport.
On 6 June 2008 Aer Lingus announced it is to suspend services on its route from Dublin to Los Angeles from November. The airline has also announced plans to cut its capacity on long-haul US routes by 15% this winter.
|List of Destinations|
|Vienna||Vienna International Airport|
|Sofia||Sofia Airport||Begins October 26|
|Prague||Ruzyne International Airport|
|Lyons||Saint-Exupéry International Airport|
|Nice||Côte d'Azur International Airport|
|Paris||Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport|
|Rennes||Rennes Saint-Jacques Airport|
|Toulouse||Blagnac International Airport|
|Berlin||Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport|
|Düsseldorf||Düsseldorf International Airport|
|Frankfurt am Main||Frankfurt Airport|
|Athens||Athens International Airport|
|Budapest||Ferihegy International Airport|
|Dublin||Dublin Airport||Main Hub|
|Shannon||Shannon Airport||Focus City|
|Bologna||Guglielmo Marconi Airport|
|Milan||Malpensa International Airport|
|Naples||Naples International Airport|
|Rome||Leonardo da Vinci Airport|
|Venice||Marco Polo International Airport|
|Riga||Riga International Airport|
|Vilnius||Vilnius International Airport|
|Amsterdam||Amsterdam Schiphol Airport|
|Agadir||Al Massira Airport|
|Kraków||John Paul II International Airport|
|Warsaw||Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport|
|Bucharest||Otopeni International Airport|
|Barcelona||El Prat International Airport|
|Las Palmas||Las Palmas Airport|
|Palma de Mallorca||Son Sant Joan Airport|
|Santiago de Compostela||Lavacolla Airport|
|Tenerife||Reina Sofía Airport|
|Geneva||Geneva Cointrin International Airport|
|Birmingham||Birmingham International Airport|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||Newcastle Airport||Restarts October 26|
|Belfast||Belfast International Airport||Hub|
|Glasgow||Glasgow International Airport|
|Boston||Logan International Airport|
|Chicago||O'Hare International Airport|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles Airport||Ends November 1|
|New York||John F. Kennedy International Airport|
|Orlando||Orlando International Airport|
|San Francisco||San Francisco International Airport|
|Washington||Washington Dulles International Airport|
On 8 April 2008, Aer Lingus and United Airlines announced a codeshare agreement between the two airlines. On 8 October 2008, the airlines formally confirmed the plan which will enable seamless booking on each other's flights from April 2009. The codeshare will also result in simplified reservations, ticketing, through check-in and coordinated baggage handling for passengers. It will allow Aer Lingus passengers access to over 200 destinations on the United Airlines domestic network and in turn will allow United passengers access to Aer Lingus' Irish and European destinations. The agreement was signed by Aer Lingus CEO Dermot Mannion and United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton in Chicago.
Its European network has been designed to compete with low-frills budget airline Ryanair. It has only one cabin class in its short-haul fleet and passengers must pay for baggage carried in the hold. If passengers pre-book their baggage while reserving flights online they will incur a €12 each-way charge per bag (€24 per bag for return flight). However, if passengers arrive for check-in at the airport without hold baggage pre-booked they will incur an €18 charge per bag each way.
On 7 August 2007, Aer Lingus announced that it would be ceasing flights between Shannon and Heathrow from January 2008. This sparked controversy in the media and with the general public. At the same time, Aer Lingus announced that they would establish a new base at Belfast International, with 3 aircraft based there. They also confirmed new routes, including Belfast-Heathrow (for which Shannon-Heathrow was dropped) and Belfast-Amsterdam, with a codeshare with British Airways on the Heathrow flight, and KLM on the Amsterdam flight, the latter of which never came to fruition. Aer Lingus operates eleven destinations out of Belfast including Rome, Barcelona, Faro, Malaga, Geneva, Nice, Budapest, Milan (Malpensa), Munich, Lanzarote and Paris. Flights to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva and Heathrow began on 14 January, flights to Paris began on 30 March and flights to Nice began on 1 April. The Geneva service ceased on 29 March due to the conclusion of the European winter ski-season.
On 28 February 2008 Aer Lingus announced it would begin Ireland's first scheduled flights to Bulgaria with flights to Burgas beginning in mid-June. The service will operate seasonally. Also, starting October 26, 2008, Aer Lingus will operate direct, twice a week flights from Dublin to Sofia, Bulgaria.
On 22 March 2007, The European Union and the U.S. signed the "open skies" agreement, de-regulating North Atlantic air travel and allowing European airlines to fly into any American city, and vice-versa for American airlines. The new agreement came into full effect in March 2008. As a result, Aer Lingus announced new long-haul services to Orlando, operating 3 times per week, San Francisco, now operating a daily schedule until 5 May 2008 and Washington DC (Dulles International Airport), operating four times per week. Aer Lingus is expected to expand its current transatlantic network to cities such as Dallas, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
On 7 November 2007 Aer Lingus announced that it would cease its operations to Dubai from March 2008, stating it would be dedicating the long haul fleet on the expanding US network. However, the airline did not rule out a seasonal service to Dubai in future according to demand.
On 6 June 2008 Aer Lingus announced that it would cease its operations to Los Angeles from November 2008. The airline has also announced plans to cut its capacity on long-haul US routes by 15% this winter.
All Aer Lingus planes bear the name of an Irish saint. The Aer Lingus fleet consists of all Airbus aircraft:
|Airbus A320-200||27 ||4 orders |
|174||European & African||20 based in Dublin, 3 based in Belfast, 4 based in Cork|
|Airbus A321-200||6||None||212||European||All based in Dublin|
|Airbus A330-200||4||None||275 (24/251) or 272 (24/248)||Domestic, European & North America||2 aircraft to be refurbished Q1 2009|
|6 orders ||327 (24/303) or 322 (24/298)||Domestic, European & North America||3 older aircraft to exit service 2009.|
1 aircraft to be refurbished Q1 2009
2 new aircraft to be delivered 2009.
4 Airbus A330-300 aircraft to be in service 2009.
|Airbus A350-900||None||6 orders |
|314 (estimated)||Africa, Asia, North America (estimated)||Entry into service: 2014-2016|
In July 2008, the average age of the Aer Lingus fleet was 5.6 years.
On 13 March 2007, Aer Lingus announced in a press conference on its preliminary results that the airline had made Requests For Proposals to Boeing and Airbus for the 787 Dreamliner and the A350 XWB, and intended to make an order for 14 long haul aircraft in Q2 2007.
On 6 June 2007, and confirmed by shareholders in 2008, Aer Lingus announced the purchase of 6 A330-300E aircraft for delivery from 2009 and 6 Airbus A350-900 aircraft currently in development with deliveries beginning from 2014. By 2014, Aer Lingus says that it will have doubled its long-haul fleet. :
On 27 February 2008, Aer Lingus announced the purchase of 4 A320 aircraft for delivery late 2010 through early 2011, bringing its short haul fleet to 39 aircraft.
On 10 April 2008, Aer Lingus shareholders approved the purchase of 18 new aircraft, which are valued at $2.2bn US dollars. The order will include the purchase of six Airbus A330-300s (Enhanced) and six Airbus A350-900s to be delivered between 2009 and 2016. These aircraft will be used in the major expansion and modernisation of Aer Lingus' long-haul fleet and increase the airlines' long-haul route network. The other aircraft purchases will primarily be Airbus A320-200s, which will be used in the Airline's European expansion plans.
|Route||Aircraft||Economy Class Service||Premier Class Service|
|Europe & North Africa||All A320 & A321 Aircraft||
|Domestic, Europe & North America||
Aer Lingus operates A330s on some European flights, as well as the Dublin-Shannon route. However, these are treated like A320/A321 flights, offering meals & drinks for purchase etc.
Aer Lingus has its own frequent flyer programme, known as the "Gold Circle Club" programme, with varying numbers of points earned depending on destination of flight and fare class of ticket. There are 3 tiers - Gold, Prestige and Elite.
Gold Level (coded as 'GOLD' on boarding passes) provides:
Prestige Level (coded as 'GPPP' on boarding passes) provides:
Elite Level (coded as 'GXXX' on boarding passes) provides:
Aer Lingus also offer a Gold VISA Business Card. The card is issued by Bank of Ireland. Cardholders have access to Gold Circle Lounges worldwide and priority check-in on long haul flights, but unlike reward cards for other airlines points are not awarded for purchases.
In 1968 a Viscount EI-AOM "St. Phelim" en route from Cork to London crashed near Tuskar Rock in the waters off the southeast coast of Ireland. All 57 passengers and four crew perished. The crash is generally known as the Tuskar Rock Air Disaster in Ireland. The aircraft's elevator trim tab was found some distance from the rest of the wreckage, suggesting that it had become detached at an earlier stage. However, the accident report reached no definitive conclusion about the cause of the crash, but notably failed to exclude the possibility that another "aircraft or airborne object" was involved. Following persistent rumours that the aircraft's demise was linked with nearby British military exercises, a review of the case files by the Air Accidents Investigation Unit took place in 1998. This review identified a number of maintenance and record-keeping failures and concluded that the original report failed to adequately examine alternative hypotheses not involving other aircraft. A subsequent investigation concluded that the accident happened following a structural failure of the port tailplane, and ruled out the possibility that another aircraft was involved.
In 1981 an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to London was hijacked by a man, and diverted to Le Touquet in France. While authorities negotiated with the hijacker by radio in the cockpit, French special forces entered the rear of the aircraft and overpowered him. None of the passengers or crew were injured during the hijacking. The official record shows the reason as One hijacker demanded to be taken to Iran. Plane stormed/hijacker arrested. Duration of the hijacking: less than 1 day. while various media reports indicated that the man, a former Trappist monk, demanded that the Pope release the third secret of Fátima.
In 2005, Aer Lingus Flight 132 almost collided with another jet aircraft on the runway at Logan International Airport. The Aer Lingus aircraft was cleared for takeoff from runway 15R, and five seconds later, at 19:39:15, US Airways flight 1170 was cleared to takeoff from runway 9. These runways intersect each other at Logan Airport. Due to the intersection of both runways, the aircraft had essentially been sent on a collision course. During the take-off roll, the US Airways First Officer noticed the other plane and realized that they were going to collide. Some evasive action was taken, and the two planes passed within 170 feet of each other, with the Aer Lingus aircraft flying over the US Airways Aircraft. Shortly thereafter, the US Airways flight continued down the runway and took off safely.