Published on October 21st, 2015 | by Jim Lee0
Aer Lingus announces long-haul expansion for 2016 with new routes to Hartford, Newark, and Los Angeles
On 21st October, Aer Lingus announced a major expansion of its transatlantic route offering for 2016, with three new routes from Dublin, to North America. In addition to its nine existing routes to Boston, Chicago, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington and Toronto from Dublin and Boston and New York from Shannon, Aer Lingus will introduce three new routes to Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford in 2016.
Aer Lingus will commence a year round direct service between Dublin and Los Angeles from May, 2016, with five services per week. Direct daily year round flights will start in early September, from Dublin to Newark in New Jersey. A third new route will commence in late September with a daily service from Dublin to Hartford, Connecticut. For summer 2016 Aer Lingus will operate 28 daily services across the Atlantic, offering value to business and leisure customers, in an increased number of markets across Europe and North America.
Aer Lingus’ total long haul seat capacity will grow to over two million seats for the first time ever in 2016. This growth rate of more than 17% represents the fourth consecutive year of more than double-digit long haul growth. It underpins Aer Lingus’ successful strategy of expanding its Dublin Airport base into a major European transatlantic gateway.This is the single largest expansion of Aer Lingus’ transatlantic network since the airline commenced transatlantic flying in 1958 and the initiative is expected to create more than 200 new, high quality Aer Lingus jobs for pilots, cabin crew and ground services staff.
The new routes will not only connect Ireland with Los Angeles, Newark, and Hartford but will also connect a range of UK and European cities. Customers in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome, Manchester, Edinburgh and many other European cities will be able to choose Aer Lingus to bring them to these new U.S. destinations. The convenience of U.S Customs and Border Protection services at Dublin has greatly enhanced the continued growth of Aer Lingus’ Dublin operation, as a connecting gateway.
The new Los Angeles and Newark routes will be operated by Airbus 330s, while Hartford’s Bradley International Airport will be serviced with a Boeing 757, Aer Lingus has confirmed.
Speaking at the announcement at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Executive, Aer Lingus, said: “We are delighted to be delivering on the growth opportunities that being part of International Airlines Group presents and to be creating over 200 new jobs in the process. The introduction of these three routes will open up new tourism and business opportunities with improved connectivity through our Dublin Gateway. We look forward to welcoming guests on board our new services in 2016.”
Only weeks after the completion of the €1.36 billion IAG transaction which saw its acquisition of Aer Lingus, its ‘iconic’ brand is being enhanced and Aer Lingus is delivering on its commitment to grow Ireland’s connectivity and to create high quality jobs.
An equally pleased Willie Walsh, Chief Executive, IAG, added: “Ireland’s geographic location and US immigration pre-clearance provides IAG with the natural gateway to build our business between Europe and North America through Aer Lingus. This is the first step in our plans to add North American destinations, bring new aircraft into the fleet, increase passenger numbers and create new jobs. This shows also our keenness to develop Dublin as another key hub within the Group.”
For Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the disposal of Aer Lingus was always going to be a political gamble. Could the Government show that the IAG acquisition was in the best interests of Aer Lingus and could it prove this to a sceptical public who believed that the disposal of Aer Lingus, was a desperate attempt to raise money for ‘goodies’ in the run up to an election? The Minister’s was anxious to dispel any doubts noting “Foremost in the Government’s mind when considering the disposal of the State’s share in Aer Lingus was the benefits that would be delivered for the company as part of IAG. The airline’s ability to enhance connectivity, grow jobs and secure its future was significantly improved under IAG. Today’s announcement of three new routes, the creation of 200 new jobs and transatlantic capacity growth to more than two million seats for the first time ever demonstrates the strength of Aer Lingus as part of the Group. This news also comes on the back of the new routes and frequencies announced by Aer Lingus just two weeks ago as part of its short-haul 2016 summer schedule. All of this combines to strengthen Irish aviation and encourage additional tourists to come here which will further support our economic recovery. I wish the company every success”.
Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison in a statement said he was delighted to see Aer Lingus add three new services to its route network from Dublin Airport. “These three new transatlantic routes mean that Aer Lingus has added six new transatlantic destinations from Dublin since 2014. We are pleased that Aer Lingus will fly three new transatlantic routes from Dublin Airport next summer offering additional choice for both business and leisure passengers.”
“We have been growing our transatlantic traffic strongly at Dublin Airport. Passenger numbers on transatlantic destinations grew by 42% between 2010 and 2014, and we’re seeing strong double-digit growth again this year,” Mr Harrison added.
Last year, Dublin Airport welcomed a record 2.1 million transatlantic passengers which was a 14% increase on the previous 12 months. So far this year, transatlantic traffic is up a further 17%.
Dublin Airport had 328 flights per week to/from transatlantic routes during the peak summer months with ten airlines flying to 15 transatlantic destinations, 11 in the US and four in Canada.
Flights between Dublin and Los Angeles, and Dublin and Newark went on sale on 21st October on aerlingus.com while flights between Dublin and Hartford will go on sale from 3rd November 2015.
More about the new destinations
Los Angeles is a well-known west coast destination and is the entertainment capital of the world’s glitz and glamour, with behind-the-scenes studio tours, world-class amusement attractions and theatrical spectacles. Nearby is 75 miles of beautiful coastline and hundreds of miles of scenic biking and hiking tours for outdoor lovers, as well as famed cultural attractions such as Space Shuttle Endeavour; Walt Disney Concert Hall; the Getty Centre; and many unique art, history and science museums. L.A. is also home to some of the world’s most famous and stunning entertainment and music venues, such as L.A. LIVE and the Hollywood Bowl. The route is currently served by Ethiopian Airlines who operate three return flights per week from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles via Dublin using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Aer Lingus previously operated on the route but stopped the in 2008. At the time, high fuel costs, a weak dollar and the economic slowdown were blamed.
Newark in the urban heart of New Jersey, is also well known to Irish travellers, and is a gateway to Manhattan, located just 8 miles west of the island and 2 miles north of Staten Island. Newark is the state’s biggest metropolis and is home to an arts and culture renaissance that features major performing arts and sports venues, as well as international cuisine, galleries and museums. It is a major base for United Airlines following their acquisition of Continental Airlines United is offering nearly 500 daily departures from the region to more than 150 destinations including Dublin, Shannon and Belfast. Aer Lingus previously operated this route so it would well know the challenges of this market.
Hartford is probably not as well known to Irish travellers, but it is the gateway to New England an area with many Irish connections. Bradley International Airport is a civil/military airport in Windsor Locks on the border with East Granby and Suffield, in Hartford County, Connecticut. The airport is about halfway between Hartford and Springfield and is owned and operated by the Connecticut Airport Authority. It is Connecticut’s busiest commercial airport, with around 350 daily operations and is the second-busiest airport in New England, after Boston’s Logan International Airport. Passenger numbers in first eight months of this year were just under 2 million, almost the same for all of 2014, although just under 20,000 were international, mainly on charters, or on services by Air Canada (Jazz Air).
Hartford itself is the state capital of Connecticut and is also the insurance capital of the world. For the tourist it has a range of historical attractions, a thriving arts and entertainment centre, a revitalised riverfront and beautiful parks and public gardens. It was here that the lovable Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were born in the imagination of celebrated author Mark Twain and immortalised on paper during the writer’s Hartford years. Twain’s home and those of fellow literary figures Harriet Beecher Stowe and Noah Webster are open to the public. The Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the USA, houses Pilgrim-Century furniture, the Amistad collection and a special treasure-hunt system to entice children to explore the museum.
2016 summer short haul schedule announced earlier
Earlier, on 8th October, Aer Lingus announced details of its 2016 summer short haul schedule which included a brand new route from Belfast to Alicante and more frequency on existing flights to sun routes in 2016. The new route will operate five services per week to Alicante on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting 29th April 2016. Services to both Faro and Malaga will increase from seven flights to nine per week, with additional flights now operating on Tuesday and Thursday, amounting to 40,000 additional seats. Flights to Palma will increase from two services per week to five, operating on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with 25,000 extra seats. 2015 saw huge demand for flights to the sun from George Best Belfast City Airport which has resulted in the introduction of a larger A320 aircraft on all sun routes for Summer 2016.
Flights between Belfast City Airport and London Heathrow will also benefit from a 21% capacity increase. This is due to the deployment of a larger A320 aircraft adding 35,000 extra seats over the summer schedule.
Aer Lingus also announced over 250,000 additional seats to popular holiday destinations as part of its short haul schedule from Dublin, Cork and Shannon. The new short haul routes and increased capacity are as follows:-
- Dublin to Pisa, Murcia and Montpellier and recently launched Liverpool route to continue for summer,
- New twice weekly service from Cork to Dusseldorf for summer,
- Increase frequencies on Faro and Malaga routes and additional seats on London Heathrow from Shannon.
- This combination of new routes, increased frequency and larger aircraft support 250,000 additional seats for summer 2016 and with 47% of Irish people admitting they go on holiday because they crave sun, Aer Lingus are guaranteeing endless sunshine possibilities next summer, with its short haul schedule.
Key highlights include:-
- Daily flights to the most popular Spanish and Portuguese sun spots and family favourites including Malaga, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Faro, Barcelona, Lanzarote, Lisbon and Bilbao
- 18,000 additional seats on Malaga route as a result of a new mid-Friday morning flight bringing total number of daily flights to three on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Alicante route will see significant growth from four to seven weekly flights, resulting in 35,000 additional seats.
- 10 French destinations now served with a new service to Montpelier. Flights to Perpignan now extended from late April through to October.
- Pisa, direct access to the heart of Tuscany with a new three times weekly service. Flights are conveniently timed to connect with Aer Lingus transatlantic flights to New York, Boston and Chicago. Flights from Dublin to Venice will increase from five per week to six, amounting to 20% additional seats. Nine Italian destinations now served.
- Pula (in Croatia) route will increase in frequency by 60%, now offering three weekly services and 8,000 additional seats.
As noted above, there was some scepticism about how the Government would use the €335 million proceeds of the sale of the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus. Well in the Dáil on 20th October, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, confirmed that proceeds amounting to €335,272,562.50 had been lodged to the Exchequer on 2nd September and would be used to “support and sustain economic recovery and employment creation”. In particular he confirmed the Government’s decision taken in May to allocate the proceeds, to a special connectivity fund, which he added, would “operate on a commercial basis and, therefore, will not constitute Government expenditure, but will facilitate the re-use of the proceeds for productive purposes under the connectivity rubric on a general Government balance neutral basis. The connectivity fund will be a sub-portfolio of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF”. “Given that the proceeds came from the sale of the State’s stake in a transport asset, the fund will be dedicated to enhancing connectivity both within and for the State” he added.
The ISIF would continue to develop and refine the definition and range of investments suited to investment by the connectivity fund. A working definition for the initial stage of deployment is that connectivity assets are those that “enhance, develop or sustain the physical and virtual connectivity of Ireland as an island nation”. The connectivity fund will operate on a commercial basis, providing support for commercial investment projects with a connectivity theme, such as the development of ports or airports, including access to these transport assets. It will also be open to provide support for projects that involve a wider definition of connectivity, including, for example, data connectivity such as broadband, fibre optic cables and interconnectors, and energy connectivity such as energy inter-connectors and other energy related projects. These wider connectivity requirements are becoming increasingly important elements of our core infrastructure and will be extremely important to a more balanced regional development. The investment criteria used to assess investment opportunities for the connectivity fund will be entirely consistent with the ISIF mandate, which is to invest on a commercial basis in a manner designed to support economic activity and employment in the State. The success of the connectivity fund will be measured by both investment returns and economic impact achieved. The connectivity fund, like the ISIF, will be a long-term fund deployment on a phased basis, driven by the investment opportunities identified, and returns are likely to accrue over the medium and longer term.
Under section 46 of the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2014, the Minister is empowered to bring a resolution to the Houses of the Oireachtas setting out the proposed payment to the ISIF and urging the Dáil to support this resolution he concluded. “The decision to use the proceeds from the sale of Aer Lingus for productive investment in connectivity-related projects will provide an opportunity to: enhance our regional connectivity; improve our attractiveness and competitiveness in the tourism sector; and promote investment and enhanced opportunities for growth”.
From their contributions, it was unclear whether Deputy Michael McGrath on behalf of Fianna Fáil, or Deputy Dessie Ellis of Sinn Féin, were for or against the resolution, as they harped back to older issues of the sale of Aer Lingus and the suitability of the IAG bid. At least Deputy Ellis hung around for the vote, which the Government won by 64 to 11, which is less than half of the number of Dáil members!