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An Aer Lingus Airbus A320 sporting the carrier’s new Euro-white colors. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

New Irish Carrier Seeks Aer Lingus Regional Contract

Aer Lingus is seeking tenders for its regional operations in Britain and Ireland and a new carrier has entered the bidding for the contract which will be effective from December 2022. The Irish carrier relies on the regional connections to feed its international route operations which will play a significant part in its restart strategy. The incumbent carrier undertaking these routes for Aer Lingus is Stobart Air but a new local player in the form of Emerald Airlines has entered the picture. The new carrier is backed by Conor McCarthy, the chairman and chief executive of aircraft maintenance specialist Dublin Aerospace.

According to the Irish Times, Emerald Airlines has applied for an Air Carrier Operating Licence (ACOL) to the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR). The commission states that the operating license applicant ‘must, among other things, have its principal place of business and registered office (if any) in Ireland and its main occupation must be air transport in isolation or combined with any other commercial operation of aircraft or repair and maintenance of aircraft.’ To have applied for an ACOL the applicant must have an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

The ACOL would allow Emerald Airlines to operate to most routes within the European Economic Area (EEA) without the requirement to obtain further authorization. The EEA incorporates all European Union countries and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The U.K. remains a member of the EEA until 31 December of this year and it is uncertain as to whether this will continue to be the case after this date.

Emerald Airlines would also need to meet European registered carrier ownership rules that require a majority of European ownership. The Irish Times was unable to gain comment from Mr. McCarthy regarding the carrier’s ownership structure but did report that Dublin Aerospace counts Airbus and Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes as investors.

The news of a new carrier seeking to enter the Irish aviation market comes at a time when the CoVid-19 pandemic has impacted the global industry. The Irish government has implemented severe travel restrictions on citizens to limit the spread of the virus with the whole country being at the highest level since 21 October and expected to remain so until 01 December. In addition, passengers who arrive in the country through the European travel corridor are required to limit their movements for 14 days after arrival.

Irish airlines have been re-evaluating and amending regional schedules as a result of the continuing travel restrictions. Aer Lingus has reduced services from Cork and Dublin and Ryanair will cease operations into and out of Cork, Knock and Shannon airports from 14 November to 13 December.

Hope that Irish passenger demand will return for the Christmas holiday season took a further hit at a recent meeting of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) Joint Committee on Transport and Communication Networks. Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan told the committee, “International travel is not safe and movement of people around areas with a high incidence of this disease, particularly in Europe and North America, in and out of this country, is not safe.”

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