Aer Lingus adapts to new home in Dublin’s T2; adding Aberdeen, Izmir, Perpignan and Stuttgart for S11

Brian Cowen, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, opened Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 in November. Since then, Aer Lingus has gradually moved over its operations to the brand new terminal and today, the airline operates its first long haul service out of T2, to Chicago, as the airline seeks to regain last year's fall in passenger numbers.

This week has seen Aer Lingus reach an agreement with its cabin crew, which should enable the airline to get back to the more important task of returning the carrier to consistent profitability as it gets used to operating from its new home in Dublin’s futuristic Terminal 2. Passenger numbers on the Irish carrier fell by 9.6% last year to 9.71 million, with long-haul (US) traffic down 15% to 907,000 and short-haul (European) traffic down 9% to 8.8 million. Load factor increased 2.1 percentage points to 77.8%, primarily thanks to a six point improvement in long-haul load factor (to 78.2%) as a capacity (ASK) reduction of 24% was met by an 18% reduction in demand (RPK).

Source: Aer Lingus

Source: Aer Lingus

Average load factors peaked between 2003 and 2005 when the airline surpassed 80%, with a peak of 82% in 2004.

Irish and UK airports account for 10 of top 13 Aer Lingus airports

At the end of last year, Aer Lingus launched its first route between Shannon and continental Europe in over eight years. This spectacular Eiffel Tower cake to celebrate the new Paris service was admired by Alan Long, Aer Lingus’ Manager Shannon, and Declan Power and Isabel Harrison, Shannon Airport Aviation Marketing.

At the end of last year, Aer Lingus launched its first route between Shannon and continental Europe in over eight years. This spectacular Eiffel Tower cake to celebrate the new Paris service was admired by Alan Long, Aer Lingus’ Manager Shannon, and Declan Power and Isabel Harrison, Shannon Airport Aviation Marketing.

Analysis of schedule data for this week reveals that Dublin (not surprisingly) is the airline’s busiest airport with almost 500 weekly departures to 46 destinations non-stop. Two other Irish airports, Cork and Shannon, rank third and fourth but are both beaten by London Heathrow, which Aer Lingus serves from Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Shannon. With over 80 weekly departures, the Dublin-London Heathrow services is by far the airline’s busiest single route.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 February 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 February 2011

A total of just 52 airports are served by Aer Lingus this winter, with Amsterdam, Paris CDG and Malaga the leading airports in mainland Europe. Of the 52 airports, all but five are in Europe, the exceptions being Agadir (in Morocco) and Boston, Chicago, New York JFK and Orlando in the US. The US network has been cut back considerably in recent times with the loss of non-stop flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. However, an Aer Lingus A330 is used by United Airlines to serve Madrid from Washington.

Intense competition with Ryanair at Dublin

Of the 46 routes that Aer Lingus operates from Dublin this winter, 24 of them face either direct (same airport) or indirect (nearby airport) competition from Ryanair services.

Competition City (EI airport / FR airport)
Direct (15) Alicante, Barcelona, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Faro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Krakow, Lanzarote, London Gatwick, Madrid, Malaga, Manchester, Salzburg and Tenerife
Indirect (9) Brussels (BRU/CRL), Frankfurt (FRA/HHN), Glasgow (GLA/PIK), London Heathrow (LHR/STN), Milan Linate (LIN/BGY), Paris (CDG/BVA), Rome (FCO/CIA), Venice (VCE/TSF) and Vienna (VIE/BTS)
None (22) Agadir, Amsterdam, Berlin SXF, Blackpool, Boston, Bucharest OTP, Budapest, Cardiff, Chicago O’Hare, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon, Munich, New York JFK, Nice, Orlando, Prague, Vilnius, Warsaw, Zurich
Source: OAG Max for w/c 7 February 2011

Since summer 2006, Ryanair has started competing directly against Aer Lingus services from Dublin to Alicante, Barcelona, Budapest, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madrid, Marseille, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Prague, Tenerife and Warsaw. However, in recent seasons, Ryanair has stopped competing directly on Aer Lingus’ routes to Berlin Schönefeld, Budapest, Marseille, Prague and Warsaw.

For the summer season, Aer Lingus is adding new routes from Dublin to Aberdeen, Izmir, Perpignan and Stuttgart, as well as resuming seasonal services to a range of destinations, including Athens, Bilbao, Bologna, Bordeaux, Bourgas, Catania, Dubrovnik, Helsinki, Ibiza, Jersey, Marseille, Milan Malpensa, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Rennes, Santiago de Compostela and Toulouse.

A recent development has been to use Aer Arann ATR 72s to operate under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. This arrangement began last summer and this summer, the turboprops will be operated from Dublin on UK routes to Aberdeen, Blackpool, Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow, as well as some of the Edinburgh flights and all of the flights to Rennes in France. Routes to Doncaster/Sheffield and Durham Tees Valley that operated last summer proved rather short-lived.

One of the new routes added to the Aer Lingus network last year through the Aer Lingus Regional partnership with Aer Arann is the service between Dublin and Blackpool, 220 kilometres across the Irish Sea.

Last minute fares comparison with Ryanair on 11 routes

To better understand the competition on major routes between Aer Lingus and Ryanair, anna.aero collected some fare data on a basket of 11 destinations from Dublin. Basic fares (including most fees and taxes, but not baggage fees or booking fees for Ryanair) were collected from both airline websites for travel outbound from Dublin as late as possible on Friday 11 February, returning to Dublin as late as possible on Sunday 13 February.

Source: Airline website on Tuesday 8 February 2011

Source: Airline websites on Tuesday 8 February 2011

Across these 11 routes, Ryanair’s basic return fare was, on average, 30% lower than Aer Lingus’ return fare, with Aer Lingus cheaper on just one route (London Gatwick). As usual, it should be stressed that this is just a snapshot across a limited number of routes at just one particular point in time, but even so, it gives a useful indication of the typical fare differential between the two carriers on their most competitive routes.


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