As the UK sets out a clearer roadmap for the resumption of international travel, Aer Lingus could be tempted to move more of its aircraft to the UK, especially if as expected the Irish government adopts a more cautious approach when it lays out its plans today, February 23.
IAG – Aer Lingus’ parent company – will announce its annual results later this week. Meanwhile, rumours abound how it will tackle the cash burn brought on by so much of its fleet remaining grounded as a result of Ireland’s strict travel restrictions. The 2+2 logic is that if the UK is going to open up before Ireland does then it makes sense for Aer Lingus to move more of its aircraft to the UK.
Yesterday, February 22, the Irish Examiner reported that Aer Lingus was looking to fly to New York, Boston and Orlando from Manchester, using three of its long-range narrowbody A321LRs and one widebody A330; the news follows from revelations last year that the company had acquired slots at Manchester Airport as part of a plan to kickstart an ‘Aer Lingus UK’ offshoot that would be headquartered in the UK and would operate transatlantic flights under the oneworld joint venture.
The move to Manchester makes sense: not only will it allow Aer Lingus to resume international flights earlier but it offers the airline the opportunity to challenge Virgin Atlantic in an important transatlantic hub – made even more important following the demise of Thomas Cook and its 200,000 yearly seats out of Manchester.