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Emerald Airlines launches its own ground-handling unit

Aer Lingus Regional operator moves following summer bottlenecks

Aer Lingus Regional operator Emerald Airlines has created its own ground-handling unit following a summer of chaos across European airports, according to its chief executive, Conor McCarthy.

Emerald took over the Aer Lingus Regional franchise this year, and now has a fleet of 14 ATR 72 aircraft, used mainly to connect Ireland with regional airports in Britain.

Mr McCarthy confirmed that the airline decided to take on its own ground-handling following a summer during which air travel bottlenecks resulted in large numbers of bags being delayed, misplaced or lost.

He said Emerald had hired 36 people to staff the new division, which will be responsible for handling check-in bags and other duties.


In common with many other airlines, Emerald sub-contracted this work out to specialist businesses that provide these services to the air travel industry.

“We felt it would be better to start our own ground-handling unit and take it into our own hands,” Mr McCarthy said. He explained that about one in four of its passengers transfer from other destinations to Aer Lingus transatlantic flights at Dublin, so required reliable baggage transfers.

Mr McCarthy added that bringing the work in-house rather than contracting it out would save Emerald money, particularly as it would help to cut out delays and other problems.

Aer Lingus itself drew a lot of criticism during the summer from passengers whose bags were delayed or mislaid. The problem occurred most frequently with transfer flights.

The airline noted that in many cases, the difficulty arose where passengers were transferring to its services from those operated by other airlines or at European airports where queues or delays were particularly severe during the summer.

Mr McCarthy said many of the problems that emerged at airports during a summer when many holidaymakers began flying again after two years of Covid curbs had since eased.

Emerald will have 1.5 million seats for sale next summer under the Aer Lingus Regional banner, operating 13 routes from Dublin and 10 from Belfast City Airport, where it is now the biggest carrier.

It will add routes from Belfast to the channel island, Jersey, and Newquay in Cornwall. Emerald began selling seats on its summer services last week through

Mr McCarthy was one of several industry figures at Aircraft Leasing Ireland’s Global Sustainability Day who called for reforms of EU air traffic control.

He said the proposed single European sky initiative would cut emissions by at least 10 per cent, but many member states continue to oppose the measure, which the EU has been discussing for 20 years.

The single European sky would shorten routes and reduce flight times, cutting fuel burn, at a time when airlines face the prospect of paying tax on their emissions.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas