Today is the day: Aer Lingus UK has started Manchester to Barbados. This comes 11 months after the carrier’s parent applied for slots to operate long-haul services from the Northwest England airport. Adding to Barbados, Aer Lingus will begin New York JFK and Orlando from Manchester in December and Boston in 2022.
Barbados takes off
Aer Lingus introduced Manchester to Barbados on October 20th, four months after the carrier received its air operator’s certificate. Currently operating on Wednesdays and Sundays, the route will have a third weekly flight from November when a Friday service is added.
The current schedule is as follows (all times are local), although it’ll change from November onwards following the end of British Summer Time.
- EI31 (EG931): Manchester-Barbados, 10:15-14:35
- EI32 (EG931): Barbados-Manchester, 17:20-07:00+1 the following day
According to Radarbox.com, the first flight departed Manchester at 10:46. At the time of writing, it has passed Ponta Delgada (Azores) and has less than four hours remaining. It has the call sign ‘Green Flight 931’.
Speaking at the launch, Karen Smart, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, commented on Aer Lingus investing and growing at the airport, drawing on the airport’s catchment area of 22 million people within a two-hour drive time. She said:
“It’s incredibly pleasing to see Aer Lingus’ inaugural flight to Barbados take off from Manchester Airport this morning. Not only is it great to see the airline put this route on at Manchester, but it is also a huge boost for the region with Aer Lingus choosing us as its first UK base for transatlantic flights.”
The route is by the carrier’s only A330
The honor for the first round-trip goes to G-EILA, the carrier’s sole A330-300. This aircraft has 317 seats, with 30 in business (fully flat) and 287 in economy (31″-32″ seat pitch). At 11.62 years old, G-EILA was previously with Aer Lingus as EI-ELA. According to ch-aviation.com, it was delivered in 2010 and is on lease from AerCap.
Barbados has been a sizeable market from Manchester for many years, with over 103,000 round-trip seats in winter 2019 when TUI and Virgin Atlantic served it. Now, three airlines serve it: TUI, Virgin Atlantic, and Aer Lingus. It is a strong winter market, with booking data suggesting that the average fare is around one quarter higher than in the summer.
Aer Lingus has benefited from the gap following the end of Thomas Cook, which served Barbados from Manchester between May 2014 and March 2019. It should also benefit from the pandemic-driven rise in higher-end leisure demand, as Virgin experienced and which helps explain its expansion in the Caribbean.
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Other Aer Lingus UK routes from Manchester
Joining Barbados will be Boston, JFK, and Orlando. While the start date of Boston isn’t yet known, JFK and Orlando will both launch in December, well-timed as the US opens to fully vaccinated UK citizens from early November.
Historically Manchester’s largest US market, Orlando was an obvious route for Aer Lingus. It’ll run four weekly from December 11th using the A330-300. JFK, meanwhile, has historically been the second-largest market. It’ll begin on December 1st and have seven weekly A321LR flights.
What do you make of Aer Lingus’ long-haul services from Manchester? Share your views in the comments.