The Transatlantic market remains key to the development of the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) and this week it has confirmed the launch of four additional services between the UK and the US through its airline subsidiaries Aer Lingus and British Airways.
Irish flag carrier, Aer Lingus, a recent addition to the IAG portfolio, is to launch flights between Dublin and Los Angeles, Newark, and as we questioned last week (see ‘INSIGHT: Is Aer Lingus set to return transatlantic flights to Hartford?’), Hartford during the summer 2016 schedule, while British Airways will relaunch its New York operation from London Gatwick after a seven-year hiatus.
In its single largest expansion of its transatlantic network since it commenced flying to the US in 1958, Aer Lingus is adding 19 weekly flights between Ireland and the US through its three additional summer 2016 routes.
It will return to the Los Angeles market after seven-and-a-half years with a five times weekly service from Dublin from May 4, 2016, while the resumption of a daily Dublin – Newark operation will complement its current flights to New York. This route will commence from September 1, 2016 and comes almost 15 years after it last served Liberty International Airport via a Dublin – Shannon – Newark routing in October 2001.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus will become the only airline offering a direct flight to Hartford Bradley International Airport, branded as the ‘Gateway to New England’ from outside North America when it launches a daily link from Dublin from September 28, 2016, backed by a rumoured multi-million dollar support package. The Los Angeles and Newark routes will be served using an Airbus A330, while the Hatford operation will be flown using a Boeing 757-200 under partnership with ASL Airlines Ireland.
In summer 2016 Aer Lingus will operate 28 daily services across the Atlantic offering value to business and leisure customers in an increased number of markets across Europe and North America. Its total long haul seat capacity will grow by more than 17 per cent in 2016, representing the fourth consecutive year of more than double-digit long haul growth.
This week’s route announcement is extra noteworthy as it is the first since the airline was acquired by IAG in a €1.4 billion deal. One of the guarantees IAG made to get the government to hand over its share in the former state carrier was the promise of four extra transatlantic routes by 2020.
Further expanding the IAG Transatlantic offering in summer 2016, the return of British Airways’ link between London Gatwick and New York John F Kennedy International will complement the carrier’s current multiple-daily flights from London Heathrow and premium service from London City (via Shannon). The airline last served this market in March 2009 and will offer a daily operation from May 1, 2016 using a 777-200ER.
Elsewhere in the US market, British Airways will launch flights next summer to San Jose, California from May 4, 2016; will grow its Las Vegas operation from London Heathrow from its current daily service to ten weekly from March 27, 2016 and eleven weekly from May 2, 2016; will introduce a First Class service to San Diego as a larger 777-300ER substitutes a 777-200ER on its daily service from March 27, 2016 and add a 12th weekly rotation to Seattle from March 28, 2016. Elsewhere in the Americas, from London Gatwick it will also introduce new links to Lima, Peru (three times weekly) and San Jose, Costa Rica (twice weekly) from May 4, 2016.
IAG’s addition of Aer Lingus to its portfolio follows the latter’s recent successful strategy of expanding its Dublin Airport base into a major European transatlantic gateway with the convenience of US Customs and Border Protection services enhancing its role as a transfer gateway, especially from the UK market where Aer Lingus has grown its share of Transatlantic traffic thanks to the expansion of its network into more regional destinations through its Aer Lingus Regional franchise.
An estimated 27.5 million passengers flew on scheduled services between Europe and the US in the first six months of this year, according to Sabre segment demand analysis, with the United Kingdom and Ireland among the top ten markets for passengers – UK is first with a 32.2 per cent share and Ireland eighth with a 3.8 per cent share.