The Government has launched a tender for the Dublin to Donegal route, which will be operated as a Public Service Obligation (PSO).
The €17m contract is expected to include a minimum of two return flights daily: an early morning flight from Donegal before 8am and a late evening flight from Dublin departing after 6.30pm.
The new carrier must be capable of handling up to 120 passengers a day.
It is intended to run for for three years from the end of February 2022, with a possible one-year extension subject to a satisfactory review.
Stobart Air operated the route for Aer Lingus Regional until its collapse earlier this year.
Swedish carrier Amapola stepped in on a short-term contract to operate the service using a 50-seater Fokker 50.
Although a decision will not be made until November, it is thought likely that Emerald Airlines are the front-runners to win the contract as they are already the franchise operator for all Aer Lingus Regional routes between Ireland and the UK.