Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus

Infobox Airline
airline = Aer Lingus

logo_size = 250
fleet_size = 42
destinations = 69
callsign = SHAMROCK
parent = Aer Lingus Group plc
founded = 1936
headquarters = Dublin, Ireland
key_people = John Sharman (Chairman), Dermot Mannion (CEO)
hubs = Dublin Airport
Cork Airport
Belfast International Airport
focus_cities = Shannon Airport
frequent_flyer =Gold Circle Club
lounge = Gold Circle Club
website = []

Aer Lingus is the flag carrier airline of Ireland. Based at Dublin Airport, it operates 41 Airbus aircraft serving Europe, Africa and North America. The airline is 29.4% owned by Ryanair and 25.4% owned by the Irish government; it was floated on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges on 2 October 2006, following prior government approval (the government previously owned 85% of the airline). Aer Lingus is a former member of the Oneworld airline alliance, which it left on 31 March 2007. While Aer Lingus is not in an alliance it has extensive codeshares with Oneworld and SkyTeam members. [cite web|last=McEnaney |first=Tom |date=30 May 2006 |url= |title=Aer Lingus to quit Oneworld alliance |publisher=Irish Independent|accessmonthday=31 May | accessyear=2006] The company employs 4,000 people and in 2007 had revenues of €1.3 billion. Aer Lingus transferred 9.3 million passengers in 2007. It has a mixed business model, operating a low fare service on its European and North African routes and full service, two-class flights on transatlantic routes. The company motto is "Enjoy your flight".


Early years

Aer Lingus was founded in April 1936 with an authorised capital of £100,000. Pending legislation for Government investment through a parent company, Aer Lingus was associated with Blackpool and West Coast Air Services which advanced the money for the first aircraft, and operated with Aer Lingus under the common title "Irish Sea Airways". [ Company "About Us" Page] cite book | last=Skinner | first=Liam M. | title=Ireland and World Aviation - The Complete Story | year=1989 | publisher=Universities Press Ltd] Aer Lingus Teoranta was registered as an airline on 22 May 1936.cite book | last=Lalor | first=Brian (ed) | year=2003 |title=The Encyclopaedia of Ireland | publisher=Gill & Macmillan | location=Dublin, Ireland | isbn=0-7171-3000-2 | pages=p 9] The name, "Aer Lingus" is an anglicisation of the Irish form "Aer Loingeas" which means Air Fleet (as does one Russian airline, Aeroflot). The name was originally proposed by Richard F O'Connor, who was Cork County Surveyor at the time, and an aviation enthusiast. Incidentally, Aer Lingus was originally pronounced 'air ling-us' (as the Irish Aer Loingeas is pronounced) and only later did the pronunciation change to the now accepted 'air ling-gus'. Five days after being registered as an airline, its first service began between Baldonnel Airfield in Dublin and Whitchurch in Bristol, England, using a six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon (registration EI-ABI) [] biplane which was named "Iolar" (Eagle).

Later that year, the airline acquired its second aircraft, a De Havilland 86 Express (DH86A) named "Éire", a four engined biplane with a capacity of 14 passengers. This aircraft provided the first air link between Dublin and London by extending the Bristol service to Croydon. At the same time, the DH84 Dragon was used to inaugurate an Aer Lingus service on the Dublin-Liverpool route.

The airline was established as the national carrier under the Air Navigation and Transport Act (1936). In 1937, the Irish government created Aer Rianta (now called Dublin Airport Authority), a company to assume financial responsibility for the new airline and the entire country's civil aviation infrastructure. In April 1937, Aer Lingus became wholly owned by the Irish government via Aer Rianta.

In 1938 "Iolar" was replaced by a de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide and a second DH86B was also purchased. Two Lockheed L-14s arrived in 1939, Aer Lingus' first all-metal aircraft.

In January 1940, a new airport was completed in the Dublin suburb of Collinstown and Aer Lingus moved their operations there. A new DC-3 was bought and new services to Liverpool and an internal service to Shannon were inaugurated. The airline's services were curtailed during World War II with the sole route being to Liverpool or Barton Aerodrome Manchester depending on the fluctuating security situation.

Post-war expansion

On 9 November 1945, regular services were resumed with an inaugural flight to London. From this point on Aer Lingus planes, initially mostly Douglas DC-3s, were painted in a silver and green livery, and the airline's first flight attendants were introduced. In 1946, a new Anglo-Irish agreement gave Aer Lingus exclusive UK traffic rights in exchange for a 40% holding by BOAC and British European Airways (BEA). Because of Aer Lingus' growth the airline bought seven new Vickers Viking planes in 1947, however, these proved to be uneconomical and were soon sold.

In 1947, Aerlínte Éireann came into existence with the purpose of operating transatlantic flights to New York from Ireland. Three new Lockheed Constellations were ordered but a change of government and a financial crisis prevented the service from starting. Eamon De Valera, the incoming Fianna Fail Taoiseach (Prime Minister), was not a keen supporter of air travel and thought that flying the Atlantic was too grandiose a scheme for a small airline from a small country like Ireland. The Constellations were then sold to BOAC. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Aer Lingus introduced new routes to Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome. Because of the expanding route structure the airline became one of the first to order Vickers Viscount 700s in 1951, placed in service in April 1954. In 1956, Aer Lingus introduced a new, green-top livery with a white lighting flash down the windows and the Irish flag displayed on each plane's fin.

First transatlantic service

On 28 April 1958, Aerlínte Éireann operated the first transatlantic service from Shannon to New York. Three Lockheed Super Constellations were used for the thrice-weekly service. The aircraft were leased from the American airline Seaboard and Western while Irish cabin crews were used. This arrangement continued until 1 January 1960 when Aerlínte Éireann was renamed Aer Lingus - Irish International Airlines. Aer Lingus entered the jet-age on 14 December 1960 when three Boeing 720s were delivered for use on the New York route, as well as for the newest Aer Lingus destination, Boston.

In 1963, Aer Lingus added Carvair's to the fleet. With this aircraft, five cars could be transported by loading them into the fuselage through the nose of the aircraft. The Carvair proved to be uneconomic for the airline, partly due to the rise of car ferry services by sea and the aircraft were then used for freight services until disposed of. The Boeing 720s proved to be a success for the airline on the transatlantic routes. In 1964, Aer Lingus took delivery of the larger Boeing 707.

Jet aircraft

Conversion of the European fleet to jet equipment began in 1965 when the BAC One-Eleven started services from Dublin and Cork to Paris and via Manchester to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt. A new livery was adopted in the same year, with a large green shamrock on the fin and titles of "Aer Lingus-Irish International" just above the plane's windows. In 1966, the remainder of the company's shares held by Aer Rianta were transferred to the Minister for Finance.

In 1966, the route from Shannon to Montreal and onward to Chicago was inaugurated.

In 1968, flights from Belfast in Northern Ireland to New York were started. The service was soon suspended due to the beginning of the Troubles in the area. 1969 saw the introduction of Boeing 737s to the Aer Lingus fleet to cope with the high demand for flights between the cities of Dublin and London. Aer Lingus later extended the 737 flights to all of their European network.

1970s to 1990s

In 1970, Aer Lingus took delivery of two Boeing 747s for use on the transatlantic routes. A third was later added to the fleet but one was leased out because it was not profitable at first for the company to fly 747s across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1974, a new livery was unveiled and the word "International" disappeared from the fuselage titles on Aer Lingus planes. The livery included two different colors of blue and one green, plus the white shamrock on the tail/fin.

In September 1979, Aer Lingus became the first airline other than Alitalia to be used by Pope John Paul II. The pontiff flew aboard a specially modified Boeing 747 (EI-ASI or St. Patrick) from Rome to Dublin and later from Shannon to Boston. In the early 1980s the 707s were phased out.

In 1984, a fully-owned subsidiary, "Aer Lingus Commuter", was formed so that Aer Lingus could fly to larger cities in Ireland and Britain whose flying time from Dublin did not require jet planes. These services were operated primarily by five of the Belfast-built Shorts 360 after conducting a trial with the Shorts 330. Around this time Aer Lingus purchased a majority sharehold in the cargo airline Aer Turas, owner of some DC-8 freighter jets.

Between 1987 and 1989, new Boeing 737s arrived to replace the older ones, and 6 Fokker F50s were added to the "Commuter" fleet. During 1990, after the passage of the deregulation act for the airline industry in Ireland, Aer Lingus had to reconsider its operational policies. The BAC 1-11s were retired and 5 new 737s arrived. In 1991, 4 Saab 340Bs arrived at the commuter division to replace the Shorts 360 planes. By 1992 Aer Lingus's entire original 737-200 fleet had been replaced and was now the first operator in the world of all three versions of the second generation 737. These were the -300, -400 and -500 series, although the -300 did not last long in Aer Lingus service.

Airbus operations

In 1994, Aer Lingus started direct services between Dublin and the United States using the Airbus A330 and in May of that year Aer Lingus operated the first A330-300 ETOPS service on the North Atlantic route. This led to the phasing out of the Boeing 747 and the briefly operated Boeing 767-300ER. On 2 October 1995, the Boeing 747 service ceased operations after twenty-five years of service. By that time, over 8 million people had travelled across the Atlantic in Aer Lingus Boeing 747s. The late 1990s saw Aer Lingus return to Belfast with a service to New York via Shannon. Newark International Airport in New Jersey was also added as a destination. Since 2001 these flights have been cancelled.

On 1 February 2001, Aer Lingus Commuter was merged back into the mainline operation. Following the [attacks of September 11, 2001 Aer Lingus' business was severely reduced. Staff numbers were cut, destinations were dropped and the fleet was reduced. The airline has since weathered the storm and is back in profit - this has largely been achieved through a strategy of lowering the airline's cost base, updating the fleet with modern Airbus equipment and developing new routes to mainland European destinations (Aer Lingus had previously largely neglected mainland Europe in favour of US and British destinations). They are currently positioning themselves as competition to the European no-frills airlines while offering intercontinental flights as well. Business class travel for short haul flights has been phased out. Cargo services remain on a small number of routes.

On 27 October 2005, Aer Lingus announced their first scheduled service to Asia from March 2006 as Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, where Chief Executive Dermot Mannion was based when at Emirates Airline. [ [ RTÉ Business: Aer Lingus must privatise in 2006: CEO ] ] Despite the Aer Lingus press release describing it as the first long haul service outside the United States, there had in fact been a previous service to Montreal, Canada from 1966-1979. The great circle distance of convert|5926|km is comparable to the current service to Chicago but Los Angeles remains Aer Lingus' longest route at convert|8338|km. At the same time Mr. Mannion linked [ the funding of new long haul aircraft to replace the A330 fleet with the privatisation of the airline] . The Dubai service ceased in March 2008 as the airline sought to increase its market share in the newly liberalised transatlantic market. On 29 October 2005, Aer Lingus withdrew its last two Boeing 737 aircraft from service. EI-CDH (a 737-500) operated the last sectors from Dublin to Nice, France and back. The aircraft and its sister ship EI-CDG now operate for Rossiya in Russia. This marked the end of Boeing content within Aer Lingus' fleet.

On 6 June 2007 Aer Lingus strengthened its relationship with the European manufacturer by ordering 6 of the new A350 XWB as well as 6 A330-300E aircraft. These will be used to expand Aer Lingus' long haul operations as well as replacement aircraft for 3 older models. Deliveries of the A330E will begin in 2009 and the A350 XWB will begin in 2014.


In preparation for the commercial flotation of Aer Lingus on the Dublin stock market, the Irish government agreed to abolish the Shannon stopover from the end of 2006 in stages.

The company began conditional (or "grey-market") share dealings on 27 September 2006 and was formally admitted to the Official Lists of the Irish Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange on 2 October 2006. At the time of the flotation the Irish government maintained a 28% shareholding, while employees held 15%.

Aer Lingus withdrew from the Oneworld airline alliance on 1 April 2007, however it intends to maintain strong bilateral links with various Oneworld members and has no intention of joining any other global alliance. On 19 November 2006, Aer Lingus declared that it would shortly announce agreements with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The decision to leave the alliance was due to Aer Lingus repositioning itself as a low-fares point to point carrier, which is at odds with Oneworld's pitch to the premium international frequent flyer, and the cost involved for Aer Lingus with the acceptance of new members to the alliance. On 6 February 2007, however, the airline announced its intention to form a new alliance with JetBlue Airways. This new alliance will be a weblink between the two airlines, meaning Aer Lingus customers will be able to book JetBlue destinations from the Aer Lingus website, and vice versa for JetBlue for customers. In 2008, it also announced a strategic alliance with United Airlines for connecting services within the continental US.

With the flotation of Aer Lingus on the stock exchange, Aer Lingus is planning to expand its route network. New destinations to Europe and North America are planned, and further destinations to Asia also.

Ryanair takeover bid

On 5 October 2006, Ryanair launched a bid to buy Aer Lingus. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said the move was a "unique opportunity" to form an Irish airline. The "new" airline would carry over 50 million passengers a year. Ryanair said it had bought a 16% stake in Aer Lingus and was offering €2.80 for remaining shares. [ [ BBC NEWS | Business | Aer Lingus rejects Ryanair offer ] ] On the same day Aer Lingus rejected Ryanair's takeover bid. [ [ RTÉ Business: Aer Lingus says no as Ryanair ups stake ] ] On 5 October 2006, Ryanair confirmed it had raised its stake to 19.2%, and said it had no problem in the Irish Government keeping its 28.3%. There were also reports in the Irish Times that the Government would possibly seek judgement from the courts, and referral to competition authorities in Dublin - although this would be automatic under European regulation, as the combined group would control 78% of the Dublin - London passenger air traffic. [ [ BBC NEWS | Business | Ryanair lifts stake in Aer Lingus ] ]

On 29 November 2006, Ryanair confirmed it had taken its stake to 26.2% of the airline. [ [ O'Leary in new €88m swoop on Aer Lingus - National News, Frontpage - ] ]

On 21 December 2006, Ryanair announced it was withdrawing its current bid for Aer Lingus, with the intent of pursuing another bid in the near future after the European Commission finishes investigating the current bid. The EC has been concerned that the takeover would reduce consumer choice and increase fares. []

On 27 June 2007, the European Commission announced their decision to block the bid on competition grounds saying the two airlines controlled more than 80% of all European flights to and from Dublin airport. [cite web
last = BBC News
title = Ryanair's Aer Lingus bid blocked
date = 27 June 2007
url =
accessdate = 2007-06-27

Cross border expansion

On 7 August 2007 the airline announced that it was to establish its first base outside of the Republic of Ireland at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland. Services from Belfast International commenced in December 2007. As of July 2008, the airline has three Airbus A320 aircraft based at the airport, serving eleven European destinations. Significantly, this move restores the Belfast International to London Heathrow link, and cooperates with its codeshare partner British Airways on this route to connect with British Airways' network at Heathrow. In order to do so, the airline discontinued its Shannon-Heathrow service, a move that generated serious political controversy in the West of Ireland, particularly as the Shannon-London route was still profitable. The airline predicted that this move would add one million additional passengers annually. [ [ RTÉ News] /aerlingus.html?rss] [ [ Belfast International Airport] ]

Open Skies

On 22 March 2007, as a result of the Open Skies Agreement, Aer Lingus announced three new long-haul services to the United States. From Autumn 2007, Aer Lingus commenced direct flights to Orlando (3x weekly), San Francisco (daily) and Washington D.C.-Dulles (4x weekly). These services were facilitated by the arrival of two new Airbus A330 aircraft in May 2007. The airline already serves Boston (Logan International Airport), Chicago (O'Hare International Airport), New York (JFK Airport) and Los Angeles. Aer Lingus ended its Middle-Eastern Route to Dubai on 29 March 2008 which allowed the airline to provide an increased frequency to San Francisco (6 times per week from 6 May 2008). The airline has said that it may re-open the Dubai route on a seasonal basis in the future. With the arrival of new long-haul Airbus aircraft from 2009, there is speculation the airline will open up new routes to South Africa and the Far East.

On 6 June 2008 Aer Lingus announced it is to suspend services on its route from Dublin to Los Angeles from November. The airline has also announced plans to cut its capacity on long-haul US routes by 15% this winter. [ [ RTÉ News: Aer Lingus cuts Los Angeles route ] ]


Aer Lingus operates A330s on some European flights, as well as the Dublin-Shannon route. However, these are treated like A320/A321 flights, offering meals & drinks for purchase etc.

Gold Circle Club

Aer Lingus has its own frequent flyer programme, known as the "Gold Circle Club" programme, with varying numbers of points earned depending on destination of flight and fare class of ticket. There are 3 tiers - Gold, Prestige and Elite.

Gold Level (coded as 'GOLD' on boarding passes) provides:
*Access to Gold Circle Lounges.
*Requires accumulation of 2,400 points in 12 months on Aer Lingus scheduled services.

Prestige Level (coded as 'GPPP' on boarding passes) provides:
*Access to Gold Circle Lounges.
*Priority Check-In.
*Requires accumulation of 4,800 points in 12 months on Aer Lingus scheduled services.

Elite Level (coded as 'GXXX' on boarding passes) provides:
*Access to Gold Circle Lounges.
*Priority check-In.
*Priority baggage delivery on transatlantic flights.
*Four free upgrades per year.
*Gold Membership for one partner.
*Guaranteed reservation until 24 hours before departure.
*Requires accumulation of 8,400 points in 12 months on Aer Lingus scheduled services.

Aer Lingus also offer a "Gold VISA Business Card". The card is issued by Bank of Ireland. Cardholders have access to Gold Circle Lounges worldwide and priority check-in on long haul flights, but unlike reward cards for other airlines points are not awarded for purchases. [ [ Bank of Ireland - Business - Financing your Business - Gold Visa Business Card ] ]

Incidents and accidents

Aer Lingus has suffered eight incidents in its history, seven accidents which left planes written-off, of which three were fatal, and one hijacking. The last such incident happened 22 years ago, in 1986, when a Short 360 hit high-tension power lines after rolling.

Descriptions of incidents

In January 1952, a Douglas DC-3 EI-AFL "St. Kevin" en route from Northolt to Dublin suffered from extreme turbulence and crashed at Gwynant Lake in Snowdonia killing all 20 passengers and 3 crew on board. It was the company's first fatal accident.

In 1967 a Vickers Viscount EI-AOF "St. Cathal" on a pilot training flight stalled and spun into the ground near Ashbourne, killing all three crew on board.

In 1968 a Viscount EI-AOM "St. Phelim" en route from Cork to London crashed near Tuskar Rock in the waters off the southeast coast of Ireland. All 57 passengers and four crew perished. The crash is generally known as the Tuskar Rock Air Disaster in Ireland. The aircraft's elevator trim tab was found some distance from the rest of the wreckage, suggesting that it had become detached at an earlier stage. However, the accident report reached no definitive conclusion about the cause of the crash, but notably failed to exclude the possibility that another "aircraft or airborne object" was involved. Following persistent rumours that the aircraft's demise was linked with nearby British military exercises, a review of the case files by the [ Air Accidents Investigation Unit] took place in 1998. This review identified a number of maintenance and record-keeping failures and concluded that the original report failed to adequately examine alternative hypotheses not involving other aircraft. [] A subsequent investigation [] concluded that the accident happened following a structural failure of the port tailplane, and ruled out the possibility that another aircraft was involved.

In 1981 an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to London was hijacked by a man, and diverted to Le Touquet in France. While authorities negotiated with the hijacker by radio in the cockpit, French special forces entered the rear of the aircraft and overpowered him. None of the passengers or crew were injured during the hijacking. The official record shows the reason as "One hijacker demanded to be taken to Iran. Plane stormed/hijacker arrested. Duration of the hijacking: less than 1 day." [ [ Aviation Safety Records] ] while various media reports indicated that the man, a former Trappist monk, demanded that the Pope release the third secret of Fátima. [ [ Article from Telegraph mentioning the hijacking] ]

In 2005, Aer Lingus Flight 132 almost collided with another jet aircraft on the runway at Logan International Airport. The Aer Lingus aircraft was cleared for takeoff from runway 15R, and five seconds later, at 19:39:15, US Airways flight 1170 was cleared to takeoff from runway 9. These runways intersect each other at Logan Airport. Due to the intersection of both runways, the aircraft had essentially been sent on a collision course. During the take-off roll, the US Airways First Officer noticed the other plane and realized that they were going to collide. Some evasive action was taken, and the two planes passed within 170 feet of each other, with the Aer Lingus aircraft flying over the US Airways Aircraft. Shortly thereafter, the US Airways flight continued down the runway and took off safely.

Other activities

Aer Lingus sponsored the Aer Lingus Young Scientist Exhibition from 1965 to 1997, at which point it was replaced by BT Ireland.

ee also

* List of Irish companies


*cite book|last=Share|first=Bernard|title=The Flight Of The Iolar: The Aer Lingus Experience 1936-1986|publisher=Gill And Macmillan|year=1986|id=ISBN 0-7171-1457-0
*cite book|first=Niall G.|last=Weldon|title=Pioneers in Flight: Aer Lingus and the Story of Aviation in Ireland|publisher=The Liffey Press|year=2002|id=ISBN 1-904148-21-2

External links

* [ Aer Lingus official website]

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