Published on January 7th, 2022 | by Alan Dwyer


Emerald Wins PSO Contract for Dublin – Donegal Route

Ireland’s newest airline, Emerald Airlines has won the three year contract to operate the Public Service Obligation (PSO) route between Dublin and Donegal Airport. The new service will commence on Saturday 26th February 2022. The service will be operated by emerald Airlines under the Aer Lingus Regional brand and tickets can be purchased on the Aer Lingus website. The current temporary contract has been operated by Swedish airline Amapola Flyg AB since last July when they took over following the collapse of Stobart Air last June. The temporary contract expires on 25 February 2022.

The award of the new contract to Emerald Airlines follows an EU public tendering process conducted by the Department of Transport in accordance with the requirements of EU Regulation 1008/2008, which allows PSOs to airports that serve peripheral or less developed regions. Emerald Airlines will be offering up to two flights daily each way linking Donegal and Dublin with convenient flight timings, which enable same-day trips to Dublin, and seamless connections with the Aer Lingus network from Dublin with a record number of seats. Not only will this be a huge boost for travel between Donegal and Dublin but it will also re-establish vital tourism connections to Donegal on the wider Aer Lingus network. Emerald Airlines will be operating this route with Aer Lingus flight numbers and under the Aer Lingus brand using the 72-seater ATR72-600.

Commenting on the announcement of the awarding of the contract, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. said, “Government funded air services on the Donegal to Dublin route provide vital connectivity for Donegal and the North-West region to Dublin. I am delighted to announce that Emerald Airlines will operate services on this route commencing on 26 February 2022. I know that this route provides important reassurance for those who need to attend medical or other important appointments as well as supporting business and tourism in the region.”

Also commenting was the CEO of Emerald Airlines, Conor McCarthy who added, “We are delighted to have been chosen as the new operator of the vital air route between Donegal and Dublin for the next 3 years. This announcement is a great boost for ensuring continued connectivity from Donegal to Dublin, and beyond, and we are really looking forward to welcoming passengers onboard from 26 February next.”

And on behalf of Donegal Airport, the Chairman Steve Ó Cúláin and Managing Director Eilís Ní Dhochartaigh issued a statement welcoming the announcement of the new contract, “The Board of Directors and Management of Donegal Airport welcome the announcement by Minister Ryan T.D. and Minister of State Naughton T.D. that Emerald Airlines is to be awarded the contract to operate the PSO route which provides an essential air link between the North West and Dublin in the absence of a motorway or rail network in the region. The award of the contract provides for a continuation of the twice daily flights currently being operated by Amapola Flyg AB, who has provided a very reliable service under an interim contract since July 2021. The ATR72-600 series aircraft, operated by Emerald Airlines, will also provide additional seat capacity on the route which will help the Airport regain passenger numbers post Covid-19 and contribute to our working closely with business and tourism development agencies to further promote the region as an attractive destination. Finally, we sincerely thank Amapola Flyg AB for their service under the interim contract and look forward to working with Ireland’s newest regional airline over the coming weeks to prepare for the start of operations on 26 February 2022”.

A Request for Tender for a three-year contract on the route was subsequently published on 25th August 2021. The contract to be awarded under this Request for Tender includes the commencement of air services on 26 February 2022. The current service operated by Amapola Flyg using the Fokker 50 will continue until 25th February, with Emerald scheduled to commence the service the following day. Emerald has already taken delivery of their first aircraft, EI-GPP and they expect to operate a number of training flights in the run up to starting services.

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