Published on October 26th, 2019 | by Gabriel Desmond0
A Glimpse at Aer Lingus, 1975
The airline timetable in booklet form has long become a thing of the past. Aer Lingus issued their last free pocket-sized winter timetable in 2002. These timetables of earlier years gave quite a lot of information. The Aer Lingus Timetable for winter 1975/76 provides for some very interesting comparisons on their Cork operations of the period.
The only Cork – London route was to Heathrow and was operated “in association with British Airways” who still used the old Cambrian Airways flight prefix code – CS. This meant airlines “pooled” their revenues. Perhaps you flew on Aer Lingus but BA still received some of the fare – a not very competitive arrangement by today’s standards! Between them they had just 15 flights per week, one each daily with an extra BA flight on Saturday. There was no other airline flying from Ireland to London. To fly a route you first had to apply for a licence. Governments would not issue licences to private airlines to compete with the state airlines which they themselves owned!
The day’s first departure to London was the BA One Eleven flight at the leisurely time of 1055. The sole Aer Lingus daily flight to Heathrow was at 1945. An additional Saturday BA flight left at 1455. Now there are eight daily London flights, including Ryanair’s Stansted, Gatwick and Luton destinations.
Aer Lingus were using the Boeing 737-200, with 119 seats, all tourist class “Y”. This gave a weekly outbound capacity of about 1600 seats on the Heathrow route. For comparison, in 2019 Aer Lingus with A320s and and Ryanair with B737-800s offer a weekly capacity to London airports of over ten thousand seats.
Apart from Heathrow, there were only three other Aer Lingus Cork routes. Dublin – Cork – Paris had 3 flights per week but only 2 in the opposite direction. These still used the old Paris airport at Le Bourget. On Thursday and Saturday there was a Cork – Birmingham – Manchester – Cork rotation. Only one plane overnighted at Cork. This was the EI701 which departed to Dublin daily except Sunday at 0800. It returned from Dublin at 2210 most nights but on Monday and Thursday it routed via Shannon and arrived at 2245. These Dublin flights gave handy connections to many points in continental Europe. The airport closed at night. Nowadays it opens 24/7 and the eight overnighting aircraft of Aer Lingus, Stobart and Ryanair all depart between 0600 and 0720.
Within Europe, the 1975/76 Aer Lingus timetable simply gives “jet” as the plane type. This meant BAC One Eleven or Boeing 737-200. Aer Lingus had been an all-jet airline since they sold the Fokker Friendships back in 1966. All seating was tourist or economy class.
First class was available only on transatlantic flights from Dublin to Boston and New York. Those six flights per week used Boeing 707s via the compulsory Shannon stopover. There was no departure at all on Tuesday. On Mondays and Thursdays there was an all-economy class flight to Montreal and Chicago.
Timetables also included a helpful price list. Normal return fare to London was £55.60 with an excursion fare of £44.50. An excursion fare to London over Christmas was available for a bargain £33.40. But then there were no additional fees for baggage, seat allocation or payment method and free meals or snacks were provided on all flights.
When we allow for inflation since 1975 and rises in income over the 44 years those fares must have seemed very expensive indeed. It is no wonder that the number of passengers who used Cork Airport in 1975 was a mere 255,595. In 2019 it will total about 2.6 million.
The 1975/76 timetable gives an interesting insight into what we would now regard as the limited and expensive air services of the day. Aer Lingus even advertised an Easy Pay Travel Plan to help customers pay for “scheduled flights or approved inclusive tours”.
At least getting to the airport was not so dear. The timetable gives the bus fare from Cork City at just 34 old pence!