Step forward for Aer Lingus’ UK-US plans

The Irish airline’s transatlantic route ambitions look set to be realized.

The US Transportation Department (DOT) has granted tentative approval for Irish carrier Aer Lingus to begin marketing its planned UK-US routes. 

The airline applied to the DOT in December to operate transatlantic service from Manchester (MAN) to Boston (BOS), New York John F Kennedy (JFK) and Orlando (MCO) with two Airbus A330-300s and two A321LRs.

A new subsidiary called Aer Lingus (U.K.) Ltd has been set up to fly the routes, but the UK-US flights will operate under the Aer Lingus name and have the EI designator code.

The DOT has confirmed that “pendente lite exemption” has been given for the International Airlines Group-owned carrier to begin marketing and sales activities in the UK. However, final approval is being deferred until the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issues Aer Lingus (U.K.) with an air operator’s certificate.

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“The UK CAA has also indicated to us that our grant of this request will help facilitate a successful inauguration of operations by Aer Lingus (U.K.),” the DOT said in a public notice.

Aer Lingus expects to operate 1X-daily year-round flight to JFK, as well as daily summer service to BOS. Operations between MAN and MCO will be daily during the summer and 4X-weekly in the winter season. 

The carrier’s DOT application in December said the routes are earmarked to begin during summer 2021. It is understood that 1,500 slots have been secured at MAN for the season. 

Aer Lingus hopes the launch of the services will fill a gap in the market left by the demise of Thomas Cook Airlines in September 2019 and provide competition for Virgin Atlantic, which is the dominant player on US routes from MAN.

Photo credit: Joe Pries