Aer Lingus is one step closer to operating direct flights between the UK and the US. According to legal filings in the US, the Belfast-based airline has applied for the right to sell tickets on routes to the US starting from midnight on Thursday.
Tickets on sale this week
According to the US Department of Transport, Aer Lingus UK aims to “promote, advertise and sell tickets” starting from midnight on Thursday of this week. The airline has applied to operate routes from Manchester in the UK to Boston, New York, and Orlando in the hopes of covering routes previously operated by Thomas Cook.
The airline will operate its route to New York daily, year-round. The Boston route will likely only see a daily summer service, while the Orlando route will see daily summer flights reduced to four flights a week in winter. Although the airline has not confirmed exactly when flights will commence, it’s thought that early summer is likely. The airline previously secured 1,500 slots at Manchester airport for the summer 2021 season, and soon you might be able to start booking.
The new routes have already been approved by unions, including the Air Line Pilots’ Association and the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association. But there is still a long way to go. The UK subsidiary of Aer Lingus doesn’t actually have permission to fly from the UK Civil Aviation Authority yet. The airline applied for its license, which it expects to come through in February 2021.
If the airline does get all the necessary approvals, it plans to operate two Airbus A330s and two Airbus A321LRs on the three routes. However, according to the airline’s application to Manchester airport, it has slots for one A330 and three A321LRs for next summer. The A330s are coming from Aer Lingus’s main fleet and will be re-registered in the UK. The A321LRs will be brand new delivered later this year directly to the UK subsidiary.
Aer Lingus has been eyeing up flights on the UK-US corridor for some time now. The airline secured its slots at Manchester airport in November. Then, at the end of last year, the airline received official approval from the US Department of Transport to join the oneworld transatlantic joint venture with British Airways, American Airlines, OpenSkies, Finnair, and Iberia. This approval means Aer Lingus customers have access to a wider network in Europe and the US.
Battling for space
If the airline does get approval to sell tickets later this week, it will be ready to take advantage of the growing demand in the summer season. With demand so low in recent months, travel between the US and Europe and the UK should only increase as travel restrictions loosen over the coming months. Aer Lingus is positioning to leap into action with its new A321LRs come the summer months.
However, Aer Lingus isn’t the only airline eyeing up transatlantic routes for when the proverbial flood gates open. Virgin Atlantic is also adding routes from Manchester to the US, including direct competition to New York and Orlando.
It looks as though carriers are jostling for positions to serve the US-UK market and the UK’s third-busiest airport, Manchester, is the current battleground.
What do you think of Aer Lingus’ plans? Do you think the routes will be a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.