Aer Lingus to move aircraft from Ireland to UK for US flights

Airline to fly from Manchester to Boston, New York and Orlando using jets normally based in Ireland

Aer Lingus plans shifting aircraft from the Republic to begin flying from Britain to Boston, Florida and New York next year.

A new UK subsidiary of the Irish airline this week applied to the US department of transportation for a foreign carrier’s permit allowing it to fly there from Britain.

The documents show that Aer Lingus (UK) Ltd intends flying from Manchester to Boston, New York and Orlando, Florida, using four Airbus jets, two of which are normally based in the Republic.

Aer Lingus also intends using two new Airbus A321 long range (LR) jets, originally earmarked for the Republic, on the proposed Manchester-US routes.


Airbus is due to deliver the A321LRs to Aer Lingus in February and March, when they will be registered in the UK. The Irish carrier’s UK subsidiary expects to get its British airline and route licences around the same time, the documents show.

Aer Lingus ordered 11 of this version of the A321 to serve its growing North American business, particularly from Dublin Airport, where the airline was luring increasing numbers of passengers transferring between European and transatlantic flights.

Delays in the delivery of some of these aircraft forced Aer Lingus to postpone the launch of a Dublin-Montréal, Canada, service originally planned for July 2019. Those flights should have begun in July this year, but the Covid-19 crisis intervened.

News of the US application, filed on December 9th, follows recent confirmation that Aer Lingus had sought slots at Manchester airport.

Aer Lingus confirmed on Friday that its subsidiary had applied for a US foreign carrier’s permit as part of an effort to determine if there are opportunities for it to offer transatlantic services from British airports.

“A final decision has not been taken in relation to the launch of these services which are subject to the granting of all necessary approvals,” the airline added.

Its application says that the move is designed to cash in on an opportunity left by the collapse of UK carrier Thomas Cook Airlines in September last year.

Aer Lingus says this leaves just one airline, Virgin Atlantic, with 70 per cent of peak capacity, flying non-stop from Manchester to the US in 2021.

In its first year Aer Lingus UK will offer extra flights from Manchester to New York JFK Airport and Orlando, while adding a new route to Boston, to where it will fly daily over the summer.

New York will be a daily year-round service, while the Irish carrier will fly to Orlando every day during the summer and four times a week in winter.

Open skies

Aer Lingus UK is applying under a new open skies agreement between the UK and US that will apply from January 1st.

This deal, struck in November, will allow British airlines to continue flying to the US once the Brexit transition ends on December 31st. Currently the EU-US open skies agreement governs UK carriers’ rights to fly to the US.

Aer Lingus UK gives its registered office as Belfast City Airport in Co Antrim. Donal Moriarty, Irish airline's acting chief executive, heads the list of responsible managers.

The UK subsidiary's immediate parent is the Dublin Airport-headquartered Aer Lingus Designated Activity Company. That business is ultimately part of International Airlines Group, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange and registered in Spain.

Consequently, Aer Lingus is asking the department of transportation to waive a requirement of the US-UK agreement that UK nationals have “substantial ownership and control” of the airline.

The application also notes that the US and UK agreed in 2018 that they had a “mutual interest” in allowing new entrants to the air travel market between the countries to boost competition.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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