Aer Lingus Doesn’t Want Other Airlines Using Dublin Airport Resources

Filed Under: Aer Lingus, Other Airlines

Aer Lingus has undergone an amazing restructuring over the past few years, whereby they’ve responsibly added new routes and overhauled their products. This was largely under the leadership of Christoph Mueller, who is one of the brightest guys in the airline industry.


He’s known as a “crisis” CEO, and recently resigned from Aer Lingus to go and (hopefully) restructure Malaysia Airlines (they sure can use the help!).

Aer Lingus’ new CEO is Stephen Kavanagh, who took over in March. And while I didn’t have many thoughts about him before today, I’m shaking my head now.

Ethiopian Airlines is expanding in Dublin

As many of you probably know, Ethiopian Airlines will soon be expanding in Dublin:


Aer Lingus’ CEO doesn’t like this

Nobody likes competition, though Aer Lingus’ CEO justification of why he doesn’t like competition is cringeworthy. Via The Independent:

But Stephen Kavanagh told Aer Lingus investors that while he welcomes competition, he’s concerned that the airline is consuming airport resources without offering much in return.

“The real issue is the ramp space at Dublin Airport that it (Ethiopian) is consuming,” said the chief executive. The ramp, or apron, at an airport is the area where aircraft are parked and loaded and unloaded.

“We are working hard to build Dublin into an efficient hub, and ramp space and gate positions that are proximate for flowing customers conveniently to the facility are a scarce resource. That’s the headache that Ethiopian have currently given all of us base carriers at Dublin Airport,” he said. The chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, Kevin Toland, has dismissed Mr Kavanagh’s claims.

“We’ve got to look after all of our customers and all of our opportunities,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the capacity and the infrastructure to do the best job for all of them.”

To clarify, apparently the refuelling stops on the Toronto and Washington flights won’t even use gates, but rather will occur in another part of the airport:

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Toland said that when Ethiopian Airways starts refuelling flights at Dublin it will not be using a stand at the airport as its aircraft will be refuelled in another area.

So to clarify, Aer Lingus’ CEO is concerned that Ethiopian is using “valuable” airport resources:

  • They’ll be refuelling there on two North America routes, which won’t even require a gate, and they’ll be doing so between 5AM and 6:15AM
  • They’ll be flying 3x weekly between Dublin and Los Angeles, which is the only flight on which they have pick-up rights; that plane will collectively spend six hours per week on the ground in Dublin

Bottom line

If you’re the CEO of a major airline you shouldn’t stoop to this level. Aer Lingus is obviously pissed that Ethiopian beat them to the Dublin to Los Angeles route, given the rate at which Aer Lingus is expanding to the US. But to be a crybaby over the fact that they’re “consuming airport resources” (presumably while paying the same airport fees as everyone else), is sort of ridiculous.


  1. I bet that the Ethiopian CEO is laughing and he might do another flight each week just to infuriate Aer Lingus. Aer Lingus…why did you hire this guy in the first place?

  2. Given the history btw Ethiopia and Italy i’m suprised theyre putting more focus in Ireland and not Italy as i imagine theres a decent amount of o/d traffic btw the two countries.

  3. @ Anon,

    It is interesting! While not strictly “points” related, I think a lot of us are Avgeeks and love a good airplane/airport news-gossip article…

  4. Airline CEOs seem to be more capable than non-airline ones of stuffing their foot in their mouth.

  5. Very interesting! I was just thinking, before I read the comments, how perfectly lovely it is to read commonsense commentary on the airline industry that isn’t afraid to use the word “crybaby”.

  6. I wonder why they switched the stops to Dublin if they don’t have 5th freedom rights on DUB-IAD/YYZ, when they had them in FCO. Also, if they don’t have 5th freedom rights, why not fly it nonstop as the aircraft has the range.

  7. @ Abdel Rahim Abdallah — I’m guessing it was ultimately cheaper to just “consolidate” operations at one airport, given that they’re flying through Dublin anyway. Or more than likely they got some sort of good deal from the airport. As far as nonstop flights go, keep in mind that the issue isn’t the distance as such, but rather Addis Ababa’s altitude, which makes it impossible to operate a nonstop flight to North America with a full payload.

  8. Interesting piece and showing that Ben has a good grasp on the issue, however a few other pertinent facts should be added

    My understanding is that the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) made Ethiopian a great offer on the fuel stop flights.

    Ethiopian, as Ben stated, are unable to operate full loads and fuel fuel because of the heat & height of Addis Airport

    The Addis-Dublin-LAX flights will be availing eventually of USCBP facility at Dublin, thus will make for a smoother arrival for passengers in LAX. The facility at Dublin is currently allowing Aer Lingus (Aer Lingus Regional / Stobart Air) siphon of traffic from the UK, that previously would have gone through London Heathrow to the US. Aer Lingus are aggressive in their pricing for passengers traveling from the UK / Europe to the US using Dublin as a hub

    Personally I reckon it is only a matter of time before more Ethiopian flights are given 5th freedom rights at Dublin

    As Stephen Kavanagh in Aer Lingus sheds tears and complains about Ethiopian, he has now stated that the company is considering starting a LAX service from Dublin. Laughable at best, as Aer Lingus has a track record of starting / stopping routes to the US on a regular basis. Case in point .. the recently started Washington route is being advertised as a “new route”, even though it was tried in the recent past & the same happened with San Francisco

  9. Revisited this story

    Out of curiosity, I punched the dates 30th August to 6th September 2015 Cheapest ticket roundtrip

    Aer Lingus €945 one stop DUB – JFK – onto LAX with Jet Blue and back
    Ethiopian Airlines €672 direct round trip

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