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Aer Lingus Launches UK subsidiary, applies for US route authorities

Aer Lingus (U.K.) Limited is the latest airline seeking access to the US market. The newly established subsidiary of Aer Lingus is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and will be the aircraft operator of record for the company’s planned Manchester, UK base in Summer 2021.

In a filing with the US Department of Transportation the company asked to be permitted to carry passenger and cargo traffic between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as connecting traffic via the UK to and from the USA. The application also requests permission to list the EI code of Aer Lingus as well as the BA code of British Airways on all flights operated by Aer Lingus UK to and from the USA. It is not requesting to add code-sharing with any US-based airlines at this time.

The filing is the first made under the newly signed bilateral air service agreement between the USA and UK, a necessary deal owing to Brexit.

One interesting quirk in the filing is that Aer Lingus UK is not yet a licensed airline. It applied to the UK Civil Aviation Authority but those licenses remain pending. The company expects them to be issued “in or around February 2021.”

Another quirk is that the US must waive a key clause in the US-UK bilateral agreement to approve the application. The open skies agreement requires that “substantial ownership and effective control” of the carrier be vested in UK nationals. In this scenario, however, that ownership and control will remain squarely in Ireland. That requirement has been waived under bilaterals with other countries in the past, with the US DOT holding “a long-established practice of waiving such standards for airlines when all countries involved are Open-Skies partners.” In this case all parties participate in open skies agreements.

Building the Manchester Base

The carrier named three routes for its initial summer operations. It will fly from Manchester, UK to JFK, Orlando and Boston. The JFK route will operate with daily service year-round. Orlando will fly daily in the summer and 4x weekly in the winter. Boston will see daily service in the summer and no winter flights.

The carrier will compete with Virgin Atlantic on the JFK and Orlando routes. It will be the only operator on Boston-Manchester.

The Aer Lingus UK Fleet

The initial Aer Lingus UK fleet will consist of four aircraft. The carrier will transfer two of its A330-300s (reg EI-EDY, EI-ELA) to the UK arm. It will also register a pair of new A321LR planes due for delivery in February and March 2021 directly to the UK operation.

In the slots application for the Manchester base the company indicated one A330 and three A321LR planes would fly transatlantic routes next summer. This application could indicate an up-gauge of one of those aircraft from A321LR to A330.


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