Aer Lingus Plans To Launch Flights Between The US & Mainland Europe

Filed Under: Aer Lingus

Over the past few years Aer Lingus has grown their transatlantic route network nicely, primarily out of Dublin. Aer Lingus has a lot going for them, including Ireland’s proximity to the US, the US Pre-Clearance facility (which personally I don’t like since I have Global Entry, but some do consider it to be an advantage), them being part of IAG, etc.

Next year Aer Lingus will be adding flights to Philadelphia, while over the past few years we’ve seen them add flights to Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hartford, Newark, and Miami.

At this point the airline is pretty maxed out in terms of where they can fly, though they’ll soon have a lot more growth potential thanks to the planes they have on order:

  • Currently the airline has 11 A330s, and they’ll soon take delivery of one more A330
  • Between 2019 and 2020, Aer Lingus will take delivery of eight A321LRs (which will have the range to fly between Ireland and the US east coast)

The airline also has nine A350s on order between 2018 and 2020, though unfortunately they’ll end up going to other IAG airlines rather than Aer Lingus.

So starting next year the airline will have significant growth potential, and it looks like they may use that in an interesting way.

Aer Lingus and the DAA, which operates Dublin Airport, aren’t on very good terms, over their different visions for infrastructure development at the airport. The Independent quotes Aer Lingus’ CEO as saying that relations between Aer Lingus and the CAA have “soured immensely:”

“It would be fair to say that relationships with Dublin Airport have soured immensely in the last 12 months, when it became apparent that the ambition that we have, and that its major shareholder has, to prosecute an agenda of growth at Dublin has not yet been matched,” said Mr Rutter.

While we don’t yet know whether this is just a threat targeted at the airport or sincere, Aer Lingus claims to have some growth plans outside of Ireland. Specifically, Aer Lingus wants to start direct flights between the United States and mainland Europe:

The airline is also planning to launch direct routes between the United States and mainland Europe, according to Mr Rutter.

He also confirmed that Aer Lingus will take delivery of eight A321LR aircraft between 2019 and 2020 that will be used to further bolster its transatlantic network.

This sure is interesting, as this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this:

So I’m a bit surprised to hear that Aer Lingus is considering similar flights.

Aer Lingus has a lot going for them geographically, and their strategy lately has been working. I’d love to see them continue to grow their transatlantic network out of Ireland, and frankly am a bit surprised to see them considering flights from mainland Europe to the US. Maybe they feel they’re nearing the point of saturation for their transatlantic route network, especially since they’re not yet part of oneworld, so connection opportunities within the US are limited, especially at secondary airports.

Or maybe they’re just saying this as a threat in hopes of getting the DAA to act, since surely they don’t want to lose Aer Lingus flights to other airports.

What routes could you see Aer Lingus launching between mainland Europe and the US?

  1. Markets that can make $$ from the USA: summer seasonal
    Valencia , Spain (traffic in both directions)
    Palma de Mallorca could work
    Croatia – high-end destination from East Coast
    Porto could work to from Boston
    Bologna (traffic in both directions)
    Florence (traffic in both directions)

  2. Those A350s won’t actually be arriving, the slots have been reassigned by Airbus and IAG plan to send the A350s to other group airlines.

  3. 1. DUB has had a streamlined global entry now for just under two years. Yes, previously the whole thing was a nightmare. Worth updating.

    2. EI aren’t part of One World (although they once were and will be again from next year) but this is a good thing as they have great partnerships with non-OW airlines like United and sell tickets on UA flights etc as well as UA selling tickets and award space on theirs. They also have a partnership with Jet Blue. And with lots of other airlines including obviously BA.

    3. From a miles and points perspective other than for AA flyers there’s no benefit to EI joining One World as they’d be under pressure to ditch so many of the great partnerships they have currently.

    4. Re DUB, EI viciously lobbied the Irish government to blockade expansion plans in 2014 so its a disgrace for them to make an about turn without acknowledging that they are a big part of the problem. One issue is that on their short haul business, their primary competitor is Ryanair, who also owned 30% prior to BA buyout. Ryanair wanted to build a third terminal just for themselves and wanted DAA to do the runways etc, whereas at that time EI didn’t have the cash to expand at the same rate and so it wasn’t honest trading. Now they do and it’s very rich of them to act like they’re the innocent party, as great an airline as they are, it previously wasn’t in their interests to support expansion. Now they need it.

  4. A connecting hub in DUB has a big disadvantage with USA pre-clearance facilities. They add to the minimum connection time and ultimately can make journey times longer to the US than connecting via FRA or AMS, etc. Most travelers are “uninformed” and won’t understand that a DUB connection will have them clear immigration and customs.

    I’d bet Aer Lingus goes after leisure oriented point to point markets like a true LCC. LEVEL is operating mostly in and out of Spain while Aer Lingus can rotate planes/crews better to serve more LCC-like markets

  5. It’s frustrating that that EI still doesn’t have internal connections within Ireland and to get to Cork or Belfast requires connecting through England or Europe. If they wanted to just smack around DAA it would make sense to me to start using the Belfast airports more and supporting ORK with a longer runway.

    I can’t understand their desire to do what would almost certainly be point to point between the US and continental Europe unless there were some grand machinations to move into Italy along with IB.

  6. DUB is at or near capacity at peak times currently, though I also remember them fighting the expansion of a third terminal just a few years ago.

    To answer the other part of the question, I think they could look at former Air Berlin routes, and add competition into Italy to apply further pressure to Alitalia. They’re likely to use the 321s on the shorter east coast routes, freeing up A330s for other routes.

  7. You gotta give credit to Norwegian that has single-handedly uprooted the entire TATL competitive market place. Before them it’s 3 JVs dictating everything and offering us oligopoly pricing with the residual players (like TAP or XL France) too nimble to offer any meaningful challenges.

    On a side note, the term should be “Continental Europe”. “Mainland China” and “Mainland US” works because those are individual nations, but that term is a bit weird here.

  8. @ Brendan Joseph Madden — 1) Sure, but if you have Global Entry it’s still much easier to just use it on arrival. It takes just a minute, and you don’t have to plan on leaving the main lounge earlier, potentially queue, etc. I’ve used several Pre-Clearance facilities, and with Global Entry have never found them to be advantageous.

    3) You’ll have to help me out as to what good partners they have for mileage redemptions, other than United (and I don’t consider United to be all that useful of a partner).

  9. Could this be a shot-across-the-bow precursor to a OW bid/entry? Aside from some of the much smaller Western European countries and most Eastern European countries, they’d be competing head-to-head with a lot of established flag and primarily-long-haul carriers on most routes, except to maybe smaller airports for larger cities. If they were part of OW they could then make connections easier. Or perhaps more JVs? But if they’re going for just seasonal routes, like those Don mentions, I can’t imagine they’d make enough profit for them to stay feasible when other, more prevalent carriers already serve those markets, albeit with connections and have a more robust fleet in case of IRROPS.

  10. All hot air. EI will not be doing any TATL flights from mainland Europe. An idle threat to DAA, who probably know it.
    IAG set up LEVEL exactly for this purpose, why would they want EI to also do it?
    Also its not as if EI’s expansion plans have been super bold. They are conservative (to a fault?), with the destinations chosen. It has made money for them so I get why they do it, but this idea would be totally out of character with how they operate.

    As for OW and the JV, no sign of that happening anytime soon. I am beginning to wonder if it ever will. They have not even integrated much with other IAG airlines

  11. @ Mark

    This would be a crazy time for an EU carrier not based in the UK (like EI) to start building a base at a UK airport (like Belfast).

    God knows what’s going to come out of the Brexit mess – and there’s no certainty that either the single aviation market (EU, including UK) or even the UK/ROI Common Travel Area will survive.

  12. Though most people seem to love it, I despise US pre-clearance. I’d much rather have the “waiting risk” at the end of the flight, where I can leave quickly if the queues are short. With pre-clearance, if the queues are short then you’re just stuck waiting in an awful waiting room away from the rest of the airport amenities.

  13. Their “plans” to go to mainland Europe are only to pressure the DAA to expand the DUB terminals and build the third runway. EI will not start service to bypass DUB unless they have excess aircraft capacity and need the utilization. One such example is the previous EI joint venture with UA from IAD-MAD with a spare A330. The only reason being they needed to use the extra A330, and UA was willing to put in the connecting traffic and ground handling.

  14. I somewhat agree with you Don. I went to PMI this summer and it would be great to see an international flight to the U.S, it just doesnt make sense.

    1. Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca are all targeted by Europeaners, so by BA making you stop in London is very economical since LHR is a popular route, and then they can get Eurepeans and some americans on the flight

    2. PMI isnt that big of an airport, having a widebody their seems absurd, altough both runways are capable of handling an A380

    3.Would an airline make profit if it even flew from PMI to USA? Vueling, Easyjet, and ryanair wouldnt do it, simply because they dont fly to the U.S. The only way i could see an airline operating a nonstop flight from PMI to the U.S would be AirEuropa using their 787 for a summer seasonal route.

    i just cant see it happening them

  15. Ironically, I was just looking to see if another airline has picked up the Delta, JFK/Valencia summer route. The plane was always booked and full. And yet they discontinued the flight. We’re having to fly into Barcelona now. A three hour drive to Castellon de la Plana, versus a forty minute drive. I hope that another airline grabs that slot!

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