Aer Lingus Threatens To Cut Shannon Transatlantic Flights

Filed Under: Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus is cutting its transatlantic flights out of Shannon, and instead plans to offer transatlantic service from a gateway in the United Kingdom. At least that’s the current claim.

Aer Lingus may cut Shannon transatlantic flights

While Aer Lingus’ primary long haul gateway is Dublin, the airline has also historically operated a couple of long haul flights out of Shannon. The airline operates flights from Shannon to both Boston and New York JFK.

Aer Lingus’ transatlantic flights from Shannon

These routes used to be operated by Aer Lingus’ leased 757-200s, but are now operated by brand new A321LRs, two of which are stationed in Shannon.

This service has been suspended due to the pandemic, and now Aer Lingus is threatening to cut Shannon transatlantic routes altogether.

Aer Lingus A321LR business class

Aer Lingus will add UK transatlantic service

The Irish Times is reporting that Aer Lingus intends to discontinue Shannon transatlantic flights, instead switching transatlantic service to one of six United Kingdom gateways.

Discussions are underway with six UK airports. Reports suggest that Edinburgh and Manchester are among those airports, and I’d speculate that Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, and Glasgow, may be among the other airports under consideration.

The airline has approached airports looking for subsidies in exchange for operating these flights. The plan is for any service to begin in 2021, and to last for at least three years.

Aer Lingus has approached UK airports about new service

Is this just a bargaining technique?

If Aer Lingus were to end Shannon transatlantic flights, the airport would be left with a single transatlantic seasonal flight to Philadelphia on American Airlines. As of now neither Delta Air Lines nor United Airlines plan to operate to Shannon next summer (though that could change).

American is scheduled to fly to Shannon in summer 2021

Also keep in mind that British Airways’ Club World London City service, which operated to New York and had a fuel stop in Shannon, is being discontinued. Shannon Airport has a US Pre-Clearance facility, so if Aer Lingus ends its flights, then this facility is probably no longer justifiable.

British Airways is cutting its Club World London City service

A spokesperson for Shannon Airport has made it clear that these transatlantic flights are “critical” to business and tourism for the area, and that the hope is that there will be a stimulus package for airports in the region to encourage traffic to be rebuilt.

It sure seems to me like Aer Lingus may just be looking to negotiate better terms with Shannon Airport.

Bottom line

Aer Lingus claims it won’t resume transatlantic flights from Shannon, but rather is in contact with six UK airports for the potential of launching transatlantic flights from there.

Aer Lingus essentially seems to be opening this up to the highest bidder, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. I’m still not convinced Shannon service will actually be cut, as I imagine we could see the airport create incentives for Aer Lingus to maintain these routes.

Out of what UK airport would you like to see Aer Lingus launch service?

  1. Bluff. I see zero chance of Birmingham or Bristol. Glasgow or Edinburgh would be brilliant to avoid connecting down via London, but equally doesn’t seem very likely. Manchester would be interesting as Virgin has traditionally offered some transatlantic and Manchester has grown quite a bit. Belfast is the only one I could envision.

  2. Not really sure how well received the flag carrier of the Republic operating ex-UK flights would be with the Irish public and lawmakers…

    I get they are owned by a British company but I’m sure Sinn Fein would have something to say.

    Anyway, Belfast would be brilliant either way. Having family in the six counties, a direct from JFK would be perfect.

  3. With EL belonging to IAG, this would be no different than BA adding a direct flight from the provinces, except for the passenger inconvenience that Aer Lingus does not belong to Oneworld.

    As to Shannon, apart from easier tourist access to West Ireland, it has lost both its edges, decades ago of technical stop between the US and Europe and more recently of technical stop for Soviet-made aircraft with no range. Should the 737 MAX not fly again (but it most likely will), it may reinvent itself as a stop for short range narrow-bodies between the US East Coast and Europe.

  4. Bristol would be a very interesting option, as BA’s lack of connecting shuttle services to London means I know more people in that part of England who fly KLM via AMS to go overseas than drive to Heathrow to fly BA, and there is a fair amount of wealth over there.

    Still, this ultimately seems like a bargaining chip with Shannon to get more support… just hard to picture EI turning into the airline of the U.K. provinces…

  5. @Kerry – As BA pulled down its regional connection services in the 90s, KL took advantage of this and set AMS as the UK’s regional city transfer one stop to the world. KL has a massive UK ff base, and would have been the more ideal partner for BA

    EI is bluffing. If anything, IAG should turn DUB or SNN into what AMS does for UK regional cities, connecting passengers to North and South America.

  6. @gurujanitor

    ‘Flag carrier’ is an outdated concept.

    EI is not owned by a British Company. They are owned by IAG who also own BA and IB. IAG is a registered as a Spanish Company with QR owning 25%

    Belfast could be a good departure point as there would be no U.K. APD on direct flights to the US but that might eat into EIs transfer traffic from Belfast and the TATL market is probably not big enough for daily year round service from there and to increase passenger numbers EI would need to increase flights there from regional U.K. airports.

    If it’s going to fly TATL then I think it will be Manchester.

    But it’s probably just a bargaining chip. EI has asked US airports in the past how much it will subsidise EI to start flying there. Don’t recall any takers.

  7. Seems like a US carrier would step in if EI is really serious about abandoning transatlantic service from Shannon. SNN is a gem. Step off a short flight from the US into a rental car without having to deal with the terrifying Dublin traffic. It’s like being in a small town airport (in a good way) which happens to have nonstops across the ocean. Perhaps I will actually have to start flying AA again after all.

  8. @Jordan
    KLM has done a great job in creating and sustaining connections from most UK population centres: my own local airport, Norwich, has 3 KLM flights a day to Schipol. The number of daily flights from Norwich to LHR for connections from there? None.

    My choice is allowing 6 hours for public transport to LHR (or 4 hours for driving), or a 45 minute drive to Norwich and a 25 minute flight. KLM gets more and more of my business.

    Years ago KLM took over the domestic airline AirUK, and has successfully built on that very strong foundation. BA has instead put most of its eggs into the London basket.

  9. @ The Nice Paul

    Same with MME (Teesside) normally has 3 KLM flights a day to/from AMS which I’m told are generally pretty busy.

    BA as far as I’m aware have never flown the route. BMI did LHR and BMI Baby from LGW.(I flew them both)

    I think BA have said they possibly might run flights from regional airports like MME to LHR if the 3rd runway is built. I don’t ever see that actually happening (BA flying to more regional airports that is)

  10. @ChrisC
    Nice to know there are lots of British KLM fanboys! I wonder how much of the UK market KLM has captured?

  11. Whilst this tread is about EI and Shannon, KLM is a fine example of what can be done in the regions. CWL (Cardiff) flights to AMS were (pre-Covid) packed as seems to be the case with al of its other UK regionals. KLM is the UK-Regional long haul carrier.

    So what about EI? Wouldn’t it be a good idea from them, instead of pulling out, develop Shannon as a “CityHopper” hub. It has pre-clearance so it’s very attractive as a US hub airport. I also wonder how many UK-Dublin passengers are actually going to Dublin itself. Would Shannon be an alternative for existing UK-DUB flights?

    I’d like to see some competition for KLM in the UK market.

  12. @ The NIce Paul

    I’ve never actually flown with them but they do have a significant number of flights to the UK regions back to AMS for all the onward connections from there. And AMS is a good airport for connections as well.

    I say good on them for seeing a market and making the most of it.

  13. Hi We’re suppose to fly Boston to Shannon next April or at a new date if ireland hasn’t opened its border to the USA even if we change our dates what was the schedule like to fly to Shannon i.e departure from Boston and arrival in Shannon we were to leave on a Friday nite and land abt 5 ish will it be the same thanks Linda Simes

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