WORLD ROUTES: Aer Lingus Provides Transatlantic Connectivity for Newcastle

As Newcastle International Airport, in north east England, continues to work with its stakeholders and local businesses to secure its own scheduled Transatlantic air service, the return of Aer Lingus to the airport later this month will provide an alternative option for travellers from the region to access the US market via the Irish capital, Dublin.

Aer Lingus will introduce a twice daily operation between Dublin and Newcastle from October 24, 2013 through its Aer Lingus Regional brand, flown on its behalf by Independent Irish regional carrier Aer Arann.  The carrier had previously served the route between October 2006 and April 2009 using its own mainline Airbus A320 equipment and its return will once again end the monopoly of budget carrier Ryanair in this market.

The new air service is part of a package of measures introduced by Aer Arann to grow the airline as part of its ‘new beginning’ strategy which aims to return the company to profitability in 2014.  This has also included the recent launch of new routes to Birmingham and Manchester and will provide for enhanced connectivity between the UK and Ireland, but also, notably, beyond the Irish capital.

“This new route connects Aer Lingus Regional passengers in Newcastle with Ireland’s capital city and adds another of the main UK cities to the airline’s network for Irish passengers,” said Simon Fagan, chief commercial officer, Aer Arran.  “‘Equally, the new route will enable Newcastle-based passengers to connect with Aer Lingus mainline services in Dublin where they can pre-clear security and customs for some of the main US cities, in advance of making their onward trip at reduced journey times.”

According to MIDT data, an estimated 133,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled on connecting flights between Newcastle and destinations across the US last year.  Officials say the actual figure from the North East of England could be closer to 200,000 due to the large amount of leakage to other UK airports by ground transfer, most notably Edinburgh and Manchester where non-stop Transatlantic services are offered. 

The addition of this route will facilitate such passengers flying to the US by connecting them to Aer Lingus mainline services to major US and Canadian cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Orlando and Toronto through Dublin Airport where passengers can complete security and customs pre-clearance on some of these US routes from Dublin.  Ireland is the only country in Europe to offer passport and customs pre-clearance to some of the main US destinations.

Completing pre-clearance at Dublin Airport, operated and staffed by US Customs and Border staff, means that on arrival in the US, passengers are treated similarly to domestic passengers, avoiding delays often associated with US security.  It is estimated that this service will save passengers up to two hours on arrival at US destinations.

Speaking to The HUB in Las Vegas last night during the World Routes Saturday Welcome Reception, Chris Sanders, aviation development director, Newcastle International Airport said:  “We are delighted at Aer Arann, flying as Aer Lingus Regional, choosing to fly into Newcastle.  It gives Newcastle - Dublin a much improved schedule for business and leisure passengers. It also offers connectivity to Aer Lingus' expanding range of North American destinations.  There is a huge appetite for flights to North America in this region and demand is being significantly suppressed by the very high seat factors on our main hub routes with airlines regularly hitting 90%+ seat factors this summer.

“This additional capacity will hopefully avoid some passengers in our catchment area being forced to make the lengthy and expensive trip to other UK airports for their flight to North America, with the added bonus of US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance on many connecting flights from Dublin.”

According to UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, 153,664 passengers flew on Ryanair’s point-to-point services between Newcastle and Dublin in 2012, down 9.3 per cent on the previous year.  When Aer Lingus last served the market between 2006 and 2009 passenger numbers of more than 225,000 were being recorded.  The carrier has suggested it will fly up to 65,000 passengers on the route in the first year but it is not clear if this will be stimulated demand thanks to the added connection opportunities or by attracting custom from Ryanair’s existing service.

In the analysis below we highlight the largest bi-directional O&D markets between Newcastle and the US last year. 

SCHEDULED AIR PASSENGER DEMAND BETWEEN NEWCASTLE AND THE US (bi-directional O&D passengers; 2012)

Rank

Destination

Estimated Passengers

% Total US Demand

1

New York (JFK)

24,307

18.3 %

2

Los Angeles (LAX)

9,445

7.1 %

3

Newark (EWR)

8,476

6.4 %

4

Houston (IAH)

8,030

6.0 %

5

Boston (BOS)

7,647

5.8 %

6

San Francisco (SFO)

7,518

5.7 %

7

Miami (MIA)

6,883

5.2 %

8

Las Vegas (LAS)

5,956

4.5 %

9

Orlando (MCO)

5,144

3.9 %

10

Washington (IAD)

4,016

3.0 %

TOTAL

132,863

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