Aer Lingus looks to increase transatlantic seats by two-thirds

Parent company IAG expects to post operating profit of 12-15 per cent for 2019-2023

Aer Lingus is looking to grow its transatlantic seat capacity  to 4.7 million per year.

Aer Lingus is looking to grow its transatlantic seat capacity to 4.7 million per year.

 

Aer Lingus is looking to increase its fleet in order to grow its transatlantic seat capacity by more than two-thirds, according to its chief executive Stephen Kavanagh.

Mr Kavanagh, speaking on capital markets day for Aer Lingus’s parent company IAG, said the airline would grow its A330 fleet to 16 aircraft, up from 13 in 2017, and invest in 14 Airbus A321 aircraft to provide capacity to grow both across the Atlantic and within Europe.

This capacity, he said, would enable Aer Lingus to offer a range of new direct and connecting travel options. Currently the airline has a transatlantic seat capacity of 2.8 million per year. The increase in aircraft would see this grow to 4.7 million.

Mr Kavanagh described the increase as “transformative” for the airline, which, he said, would in turn “have a hugely positive impact on Irish inbound tourism”.

“This growth ambition will create a significant increase in direct and indirect employment and career opportunities for all at Aer Lingus as well as wider benefits to the Irish economy,” he said.

New brand identity

Mr Kavanagh also said the airline was introducing a new brand identity and new uniforms. It would also “dramatically increase” marketing spend in North America, and introduce a free social media wifi package and complimentary alcohol for all guests across the North Atlantic.

The growth strategy is designed to see Aer Lingus’s North Atlantic fleet increase from 17 to 30 aircraft by 2023.

Meanwhile, IAG said most of its financial goals for 2019-2023 were the same as those made in a long-term plan last year, sticking to a target to post an operating profit margin of between 12 and 15 per cent.

The group, which also owns Iberia, British Airways and Vueling, issued a confident outlook on Friday despite a sharp rise in the oil price this year, as it continues to outshine rival European airlines Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.

IAG, whose shares opened up 3 per cent, gave guidance that average earnings per share would grow more than 12 per cent per year from 2019 to 2023, in line with what it said last year.

It raised its outlook for core annual earnings (ebitar) to an average forecast of about €7.2 billion ($8.23 billion) from €6.5 billion.

IAG did not provide an update on its plans with regard to Norwegian, the carrier which rejected two IAG takeover approaches this year. – Additional reporting: Reuters