There are a lot of mysteries in the world. For example, crop circles. Who or what is behind them, and how do they suddenly appear?
Well, the same is largely true regarding a billboard that has just sprung up near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
It appears that in the past couple of days a billboard has appeared near the airport that reads “Aer Lingus Fáilte Cleveland.”
Fáilte is Gaelic for “welcome,” and the billboard also shows the shape of Ohio in gold and Ireland in green.
Just spotted by the airport. pic.twitter.com/xvXiybtb9d
— SgtBarone (@Sgt_Barone) March 3, 2019
But here’s the strange part — the airline hasn’t actually announced flights to Cleveland, and an airport spokesperson has confirmed that the airport didn’t buy the billboards.
It also doesn’t look like the airline bought the ads, since it’s not at all consistent with Aer Lingus’ branding (and if the airline bought the ads, you’d think they wouldn’t be welcoming themselves to Cleveland).
So did the tourism board maybe buy them, and if so, did they buy them because the airline is about to announce flights (and this was just put up prematurely), or are they putting these up in hopes of wooing Aer Lingus?
We know that Aer Lingus is currently evaluation more than 15 cities in North America to which they’re considering adding service, thanks to their new A321LRs. Personally I think it’s highly unlikely a new service announcement is imminent (not just for Cleveland, but in general):
- The airline can’t add capacity in the summer of 2019, due to their aircraft shortage; beyond that, they typically announce new summer routes further in advance (for example, they announced their new summer 2019 routes in August 2018)
- 16+ months out is generally way earlier than they announce new transtlantic flights, since most flights start in summer, so it’s unlikely they’ve finalized any decisions for summer 2020
For what it’s worth, Cleveland has been trying hard to get a reliable transatlantic airline. At one point the airline had service from Icelandair and WOW Air. WOW Air cut the route due to their financial hardships, while Icelandair is operating the route seasonally.
So I very much could see Aer Lingus eventually starting service to Cleveland with an A321LR, but I just don’t think it’s being announced soon. If the route does happen, it would no doubt receive significant subsidies. For example, Aer Lingus’ route to Hartford got about $13 million in subsidies and incentives in the first two years, including a direct $9 million worth of revenue subsidies. Wow.
That still leaves the mystery of who the heck bought this billboard. Just a very optimistic tourism board, or…?
Regardless, it has nothing on this: