British regulators clear Aer Lingus for UK-US flights

Passenger traffic through Republic fell 93.5% in first half of year, Europe’s sharpest fall

Aer Lingus plans Manchester to New York and Florida services from September. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Aer Lingus plans Manchester to New York and Florida services from September. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

 

British regulators have cleared Aer Lingus to begin flying to the United States from Manchester Airport in England.

The news comes as global industry statistics confirm that tough Government travel bans sent traffic at the Republic’s airports into the steepest decline anywhere in Europe.

The Irish airline plans to fly to the US and Barbados from this autumn using four aircrafts originally destined for the Republic.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that it has granted an operating licence to Aer Lingus (UK) Ltd, the Irish carrier’s British subsidiary.

“This allows the company to undertake transatlantic scheduled passenger services between the UK and the US,” said the authority.

Aer Lingus is due to begin flying to New York JFK and Orlando in Florida from September 30th.

The carrier had originally hoped to launch the services at the end of last month, but said in June it would delay this until September due to ongoing travel restrictions.

Aer Lingus plans to launch the Barbados service on October 20th.

The airline hopes to exploit opportunities left by rival Thomas Cook’s failure in 2019.

Commitment

However, news of the Aer Lingus plan sparked fears that its parent International Airlines Group’s commitment to the Irish market was waning.

Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton pointed out in June that the aircrafts were “sitting on the ground” as a result of ongoing restrictions.

The Government eased travel curbs on traffic with the rest of the EU in July, but restrictions remain in place for those arriving from the US and Britain.

The US continues to ban discretionary travel from the EU and UK, although observers say the federal government could lift this in September.

Meanwhile, industry body Airports Council International (ACI) said on Wednesday that passenger traffic through the Republic tumbled 93.5 per cent in the first six months of the year, Europe’s sharpest fall.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said that the region’s airports fared worse in the first six months of this year than during the opening half of 2020, when Covid restrictions grounded air travel.

Traffic at the Republic’s airports in the first half of the year was down 93.5 per cent on the same period in 2019, according to ACI.

Restrictions

Numbers fell more than 90 per cent in the Republic, UK, Finland and Hungary due to “harsh and often disproportionate restrictions”, the organisation said.

Those falls actually dragged Europe’s overall numbers down by 77 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic period and 36 per cent against the first half of last year.

The numbers travelling through airports in the rest of Europe were down 43 per cent on the first half of 2019, while they were 36 per cent up on the same period in 2020, said ACI Europe.