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Aer Lingus to launch US flights from the UK regional airport that pays it the most money

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Aer Lingus has decided to scrap its direct flights to the United States from Shannon, according to media reports.

The two aircraft based there will be moved to a UK regional airport and used to launch US services. As is usual with Aer Lingus, which is well known for seeking inducements to open routes, it seems that the flights will go to whichever airport is willing to offer the airline the most money.

Aer Lingus to launch US flights from UK regional airport

(Back in 2018, as we wrote about, Aer Lingus was brazen enough to launch a public competition, offering to launch flights to the US city which handed over the most ‘incentives’.)

This money is usually directed from the tourism budget when it is US cities involved. Since I doubt any UK city would be willing to fund Aer Lingus flights, it is likely that the money will come from the airport. This could be in the form of cash payments or substantial discounts on landing and passenger fees.

There is no indication that these flights will stop in Dublin on the way.

Where may Aer Lingus fly from?

The Irish Times reports that six regional UK airports have submitted a bid. Edinburgh and Manchester are the only two which were named.

Aer Lingus to launch US flights from UK regional airport

What aircraft will Aer Lingus base there?

Shannon is currently the home of two Airbus A321LR aircraft.

We have written about the Aer Lingus A321LR fleet a few times, including here. This is a new long range (hence the ‘LR’) version of the single aisle A321 aircraft.

It is capable of flying from Ireland, and presumably the UK, non-stop to the US East Coast. Shannon currently serves New York and Boston.

The A321LR has a rather nifty flat bed business class seat which you can see here. The business class cabin has 16 seats.

Aer Lingus to launch US flights from UK regional airport

This appears to be a long term deal

The Irish Times reports that Aer Lingus is offering a three year contract to the winning airport.

This is bad news for Shannon, which is also facing the loss of flights by Delta and United to the US. American Airlines is the only airline which is currently offering flights to Shannon for 2021.

For UK based HfP readers, this is good news. There will be new Avios-bookable flights to the US East Coast from a UK regional airport.

The Irish Times report is here.

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Comments (45)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    I never understood how Shannon attracted sufficient traffic, US incoming tourists?

    • John says:

      US forces transit point. Often used by American politicians as well, many press conferences over the years.

    • Tom G says:

      I’m from the area, use Shannon all the time and have never been on a flight to the US that had predominantly American passengers. Most people in the midlands and west coast of Ireland have family who emigrated to the US. In my family we’ve used SNN to visit family members for 4 generations. One of my earliest memories is going to SNN to collect my great grand mother who had been to NYC to visit her sons. My mother still uses it to visit my sister. For that matter I go LGW-SNN every second weekend and it’s a plane full of Irish people going home for the weekend, I can’t recall the last time I heard a British accent on board.

      • Polly says:

        Agree, all my lot in Galway use it like a transit bus from here and the USA.

  • ThinkSquare says:

    Having read the Irish Times article, to me this just sounds like EI putting pressure on Shannon for a better deal.

    • Lady London says:

      +1. Nuts not to allow Shannon to re-bid and could well be a price-lowering tactic on Shannon.

      Is wanting a multi-million bribe from the receiving locality an Irish thing? over thr years have said Ryanair wants a multi-million subsidy to open anywhere then may or may not (mostly may not) keep the route longerterm

      • Rhys says:

        Isn’t it just a capitalism thing? Look how successful Amazon was in the US recently…

        • ChrisC says:

          Just in the Amazon thing New York told them ‘no’ when they asked for loads of tax incentives.

          Since then Amazon have leased a lot of office space at Hudson Yards and a 1m sq foot warehouse space in Either Queens or Brooklyn which they are going to redevelop to meet their needs.

          They aren’t getting any tax reliefs for those projects.

      • ChrisC says:

        BA is more than willing to do deals with new airports to fly there.

        Either reduction in landing fees or for ‘marketting support’

        Pittsburgh comes to mind where they got $3m over two years

        Maybe EI are just more brazen about asking for them?

        • C says:

          Pittsburgh has a history of offering support to airlines to start international routes. E.g., DL was incentivised to start a PIT-CDG route, though sustained it even after the subsidy ended. QR Cargo was similarly incentivized to start a cargo route.

          • ChrisC says:

            Oh I have no problems with airports offering subsidies / incentives

            Point I was making in reply to Lady London is that EI may be just more active in asking for them. Others may do their asking in private.

            I also take issue with her describing it as a ‘bribe’ and being an ‘Irish thing’

      • Tom G says:

        Cheap shot Lady London. This is the third time in as many weeks that I have heard a cheap dig at the Irish on miles blogs/forums. Not nice.

        • Lady London says:

          You really have no sense of humour, do you? and it was a question… not a statement

    • Rob says:

      Not sure. Shannon is a small market compared to Manchester, Birmingham etc.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Which was what drove my question, connections surely are as well served from DUB?

  • ADW says:

    Bristo; or Birmingham would be good. We’ve used the Stobbart Air Saab 340 connecting flight to DUB then onward to MCO before, still prefer this to LON to be honest even though it’s a bit of a faff with luggage!

  • Nick says:

    For those questioning Shannon, it’s a history thing… from the days when it was a huge refuelling point, then when that stopped there was a rule saying carriers could only access Dublin if they had SNN too. Obviously that’s now gone too, but there’s a bit of residual affection that includes US visitors and a few business that support(ed) the routes. Clearly those have been dwindling too, such that it appears to be unviable now. As they’ve reduced European routes too they can’t even grab the connecting market now.

    I second the arguments above though that this could be a ploy to see how much SNN is willing to cough up. And find out if any UK airport is serious enough about it. (FWIW, my money is on LPL.)

    If they do leave SNN though it’ll be the end of CBP pre-clearance.

    • Andrew says:

      Isn’t Shannon one of those airports that aren’t really needed for day to day flights, but are technically essential national/international infrastructure for airline safety?

      Bit like Prestwick, limited exposure to Fog, and about as far West as you get between here and the States?

    • Stu N says:

      The Irish motorway network is a major factor as well. You can now do Limerick and Galway to Dublin in not much over 2 hours – not so long ago, it would be four hours plus on N roads.

  • Jimbob says:

    I wonder if Welsh Government will put in a bid for their premium international airport, otherwise known as the shed near Barry?

    • Lady London says:

      Bristol more likely to fill the planes. I’d switch there except worried about the massive traffic jams Bristol has these days.

  • pauldb says:

    Wouldn’t they need a post-Brexit waiver from the US, as a non-UK airline wanting to start a new US-UK route?
    And I can’t see why the US airlines wouldn’t succesfully lobby against that.

    • Aisak says:

      Maybe, the legal framework regarding aviation on EU-wide bilaterals is still unclear. But I doubt any part would cry foul until a new law is passed.
      Several “out-of-the-box” but traditional ideas can be implemented if trouble. You can have DUB-UK-US as a 5th freedom route with a change of gauge in the UK. BA could launch the service with Aer Lingus supplying the wetlease part of it (BA Unions allowing of course)

  • Tony says:

    Could well see Stansted Airport going for this as large Irish connected population with not much over the hour.

  • Chris says:

    The seat, when its on ba a321’s is almost flat but manages to be flat on the Lingus?

    • Rob says:

      The Aer Lingus planes are brand new with modern seating. Those ex-BMI planes owned by BA are at least 10 years old, when standards were a bit different.

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