Aer Lingus Regional Expands at Shannon

Irish regional carrier Aer Arann is to significantly increase its offering from Shannon Airport in 2014 as it boosts links to the UK under its Aer Lingus Regional franchise.  The airline has announced the resumption of direct flights to Bristol, while additional frequencies will be introduced on its existing Birmingham and Manchester routes, almost doubling capacity and adding 100,000 additional annual seats into the market.

The route between Shannon and Bristol will be resurrected from April 3, 2014 and will be served on a daily basis using an ATR 42.  The carrier had previously served the route between July 2010 and September 2012 using a larger ATR 72, entering the market the same year that low-cost carrier Ryanair ended its own flight after four and a half years of service. 

“The Bristol-Shannon route has proved popular with passengers when operated in the past.  Now, with economic conditions improving in both countries, we are confident the demand is there for it to be a success again, making business and leisure travel between South West England and South West Ireland more convenient,” said Shaun Browne, aviation director, Bristol Airport.

According to UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statistics a total of 26,688 passengers flew on the route in 2011, falling to 18,307 in 2012 when it was closed.  Aer Lingus Regional has confirmed that the introduction of the new route is directly related to the Irish Government’s recent decision to abolish its air travel tax from April next year. 

"Bristol is one of the UK’s most vibrant cities, and its proximity to Bath, Cardiff, Newport and Gloucester makes it an ideal destination for travelling rugby fans.  We expect to carry 25,000 passengers on the Bristol route in the first year of operation," said Simon Fagan, chief commercial officer, Aer Arann.

Alongside the return to Bristol, the carrier will increase its successfully established Shannon – Manchester route from two to three times daily and its Shannon - Birmingham service will rise to double daily from its existing daily rotation.  The announcement will also lead to the creation of 20 new jobs at Shannon Airport. 

According to Fagan, Aer Arann's Shannon expansion programme was a key part of the airline’s growth plan, and will provide further choice for passengers flying to and from the region.  “The airline is determined to grow both our passenger numbers and route network.  The addition of a new destination and the doubling of our capacity on two key routes from Shannon, provides real choice to the travelling public, and will serve to bring further visitors to the region,” he said.

Aer Lingus Regional will now have 96 UK regional flights a week to and from Shannon next summer and anticipates growing passenger numbers to 240,000 next year and to 250,000 in 2015.  “This illustrates its very strong contribution and commitment to Shannon," said Neil Pakey, chief executive of the Shannon Group.  “All three destinations have much to offer Irish travellers from a business and leisure perspective and the extra capacity will also be hugely beneficial for tourism across the wider West of Ireland region.”

The announcement crowns an excellent first year for the independent Shannon Airport.  “We have had a positive start to life as an independent airport, with summer passenger numbers recording month-over-month increases on last year of close to 10 per cent and up to 40 per cent on transatlantic.  2013 was all about stopping the decline and stabilising passenger numbers.  We achieved that and are now in growth mode,” explained Pakey.

“We have a strong wind at our sails now for 2014, including through today’s very positive Aer Lingus Regional announcement, and will achieve significant growth in capacity next year for the first time in half-a-decade,” he added.

In the table below we look at scheduled air capacity at Shannon Airport over the past ten years which clearly illustrates the decline in capacity since 2007.  According to current loaded schedules in OAG Analyser, the airport will report its first year-on-year rise in capacity since 2006 with growth of 4.1 per cent in the 2013 calendar year.  The main reason for the decline can be attributed to the reduction of Ryanair’s activities at the airport, although the low-cost carrier has recently announced its own plans to grow at Shannon.

SCHEDULED SEAT CAPACITY FROM SHANNON AIRPORT (non-stop annual departures)

Year

Seat Capacity

% Annual Change

Main Operators

2013

842,973

4.1 %

Aer Lingus (44.3%), Ryanair (36.3%), United Airlines (8.4%)

2012

809,888

(-8.5) %

Aer Lingus (47.5%), Ryanair (36.0%), United Airlines (6.0%)

2011

885,065

(-14.3) %

Aer Lingus (49.9%), Ryanair (32.5%), Continental Airlines (8.4%)

2010

1,032,409

(-42.2) %

Ryanair (44.3%), Aer Lingus (41.3%), Continental Airlines (7.6%)

2009

1,785,720

(-14.8) %

Ryanair (65.0%), Aer Lingus (24.5%), Continental Airlines (3.6%)

2008

2,095,067

(-9.7) %

Ryanair (65.1%), Aer Lingus (22.3%), Delta Air Lines (3.6%)

2007

2,319,678

(-3.8) %

Ryanair (50.3%), Aer Lingus (32.5%), Delta Air Lines (5.6%)

2006

2,412,332

17.1 %

Ryanair (42.2%), Aer Lingus (37.8%), Delta Air Lines (6.1%)

2005

2,060,740

34.6 %

Aer Lingus (43.0%), Ryanair (36.3%), Delta Air Lines (3.5%)

2004

1,530,722

(-4.4) %

Aer Lingus (58.0%), Ryanair (18.7%), Delta Air Lines (5.7%)

2003

1,600,903

-

Aer Lingus (53.1%), Ryanair (20.7%), Skynet Airlines (5.4%)