Republic of Ireland flag carrier Aer Lingus is to launch two new North American routes from Dublin Airport in summer 2014 supported by the expansion of its fleet and the arrival of three Boeing 757-200s on damp lease. The airline has opened reservations for a five times weekly link to San Francisco from April 2, 2014 and a daily flight to Toronto from April 21, 2014, and will mark the carrier’s return to both markets.
Aer Lingus has agreed to acquire the three 757-200s from Air Contractors and the first jet is expected to enter service in early 2014 with all three aircraft in operation by next summer. Two of the aircraft will be based at Shannon Airport and will be used to expand the carrier’s existing offering, increasing the seasonal services to Boston and New York. The arrival of the 757s frees up a larger Airbus A330-200 currently deployed at Shannon to operate from Dublin, where demand is stronger. This will be used to launch the San Francisco route and the third 757 to introduce the daily connection to Toronto.
“Our transatlantic business goes from strength to strength. This expansion is extremely positive news for Aer Lingus and for the broader economy in terms of business, tourism and employment. Our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24 per cent in 2014, following on from the 13 per cent additional capacity in our 2013 transatlantic schedule. Very importantly, this expansion will directly support more than 200 new jobs within Aer Lingus and our partner airline ASL Aviation Group.”Christoph Mueller
Chief Executive Officer, Aer Lingus
"Our transatlantic business goes from strength to strength. This expansion is extremely positive news for Aer Lingus and for the broader economy in terms of business, tourism and employment,” said Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive Officer, Aer Lingus.
The transatlantic market has been a key part of the Aer Lingus network for many years and it continues to perform positively for the Group. Following a strong 2012, the first quarter of 2013 has seen long-haul passenger fare revenue increase by 14.4 per cent to €60.3 million. This increase in revenue was a function of long-haul fare yield per passenger increasing by 5.6 per cent to €333.15, fare revenue per seat increasing by 10.4 per cent to €246.53 and load factor increasing by 3.4 percentage points to 73.7 per cent. The premium cabin played an important role in this performance with Business Class traffic on long-haul services up 15.6 per cent and load factor up 5.0 percentage points to 66 per cent in the three month period versus the same quarter last year.
“Our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24 per cent in 2014, following on from the 13 per cent additional capacity in our 2013 transatlantic schedule. Very importantly, this expansion will directly support more than 200 new jobs within Aer Lingus and our partner airline ASL Aviation Group,” added Mueller.
The HUB reported earlier this year that there were suggestions that Aer Lingus could look to introduce a number of new routes or resume previous flights from Dublin using its expanded long-haul fleet with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Toronto and Chicago among those thought to have been under consideration. All of these are among the top ten connecting long-haul destinations from Dublin in 2012, a list headed by Sydney, Australia and which also includes Melbourne, Australia; Johannesburg, South Africa and Singapore.
San Francisco is by far the largest transatlantic market currently not served from Ireland, with over 100,000 annual O&D passengers (5.3 per cent of total transatlantic O&D demand) and obvious business links between the countries made it an obvious choice for the network expansion from Dublin. In 2012 an estimated 88,000 O&D passengers flew on the route, the majority with British Airways via London Heathrow.
Aer Lingus currently has just a 16.2 per cent share of this traffic between Dublin and San Francisco through partner airline connections in the US to its existing transatlantic services. The Irish airline has previously served the route, launching flights between the two cities in 2007, but it pulled the route in October 2009 as it looked to cut costs as part of a business restructuring during the global economic crisis.
The Toronto route will mark the return of Aer Lingus passenger operations to Canada for the first time in over 30 years. The airline last served the market in October 1979 when it closed its Boeing 707 passenger route between Shannon and Montreal, although it did retain a freight presence with dedicated freighter operations up until October 1983.
The Canadian city was the seventh largest long-haul O&D market between Ireland and North America in 2012 and is currently served on a seasonal basis by Air Canada from Dublin and Air Transat from Dublin and Shannon. Air Canada revealed earlier this year that its new leisure division Air Canada rouge will introduce year-round operations on the Dublin – Toronto route from next year, meaning a significant increase in capacity in this market for 2014.
The launch of the new Aer Lingus services comes at a time of significant growth in transatlantic traffic at Dublin Airport. Passenger numbers on transatlantic services to and from Dublin are up more than 10 per cent so far this year. “The significant growth we are experiencing in transatlantic traffic is largely due to the extra capacity that has been added by our airline customers this year and these new services from Aer Lingus should help deliver further growth in passengers next year,” said Kevin Toland, Chief Executive Officer of Dublin Airport parent DAA.
Dublin Airport aviation marketing officials have been pushing hard over recent years for the resumption of flights to the US West Coast. Alongside the 113,000 bi-directional O&D passengers that flew between Dublin and San Francisco in 2012, a further 61,000 flew between the Irish capital and Los Angeles, 39,000 to/from Las Vegas and 36,000 to/from Seattle, all markets which will now secure better connectivity via the new link.
“The West Coast of the United States has been one of the key long-haul targets for Dublin Airport’s aviation marketing team and we have been working closely with Aer Lingus and other stakeholders to help deliver this new route. The resumption of flights to the west coast of the United States means Dublin will have direct services to 12 cities in North America next year,” added Toland.
The new routes from Dublin somewhat overshadows what is a significant milestone for Shannon Airport, where Aer Lingus will increase its existing flights to Boston and New York to a year-round schedule, beginning on the Boston route from January 20, 2014 and to New York from March 30, 2014. Both routes will be flown on a five times weekly schedule although a daily operation to Boston will be introduced from March 9, 2014. These two links will be flown by two 757-200s configured with 12 Business Class and 165 Economy seats.
"2013 is proving a very good year on transatlantic already at Shannon as summer services will see an increase of up to 25% in passenger numbers. To have Aer Lingus make this very commitment for 2014 is another hugely positive development for Shannon and, particularly, for passengers seeking access on transatlantic services,” said Neil Pakey, Chief Executive Officer, of airport operator Shannon Airport Authority.
"Shannon Airport, which is one of only two airports in the country with flights to and from the US and Canada, services a region from Cork right up to the North West so this is a very significant announcement. It will see Aer Lingus carry up to 50,000 additional passengers on transatlantic in 2014,” he added.