Aer Lingus Reportedly Planning A321LR Manchester To US Flights

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IAG’s Irish airline Aer Lingus has reportedly moved on somewhat in its mission to begin flying to the US from the UK. The carrier is noted to have filed requests to base four aircraft at Manchester for the summer 2021 season, with a view to operating routes into North America.

Aer Lingus Airbus A321-200 on final-approach with flaps deployed
Aer Lingus has reportedly applied for permission to base its A321neo at Manchester. Photo: Getty Images

Aer Lingus applies for a base in Manchester

Irish carrier Aer Lingus has been reported by multiple sources to be in the process of applying to open a base at Manchester for the purposes of transatlantic flights. Previously, it was noted that the airline had held talks with senior British officials on just this subject, and now it appears it has moved on.

The airline is reported to have applied for a base of four aircraft initially. These are thought to be A321neos as well as one A330 widebody. That could well change in the future, and as yet, nothing is confirmed by the airline.

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting prospect and would replace some of the transatlantic capacity lost at MAN due to the demise of Thomas Cook. According to Anna.aero, the Manchester to US market had less than two million seats in 2019, down from 2.2 million in 2017. Thomas Cook was responsible for just under half a million seats.

THomas cook manchester getty images
More transatlantic capacity would be welcomed since the loss of Thomas Cook. Photo: Getty Images

Where will Aer Lingus fly?

There’s a wealth of routes that are currently underserved from Manchester. SPD Travels on Twitter pegs this as likely to be Chicago, New York JFK, Boston and Orlando, although nothing is confirmed as yet. Anna.aero has undertaken a comparison of eight potential destinations, each with their pros and cons.

JFK and Orlando are already served by Virgin Atlantic, but capacity has reduced with the loss of Thomas Cook. Boston is not currently served by any airline from Manchester, despite having strong demand when it was. Almost 45,000 passengers traveled this route in 2019.

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Potential destinations overlaid with the range of the A321LR. East Coast is entirely possible, but Aer Lingus would require the additional range of the A330 for anything West Coast. Image: GCMaps

Other unserved routes include Las Vegas, Miami and Seattle, all of which had seen relatively strong traffic previously, according to Anna.aero analysis. The publication suggests that these are likely candidates for Aer Lingus, although only time will tell what its choice will be.

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Putting the squeeze on Virgin Atlantic

Without Thomas Cook in the picture, Virgin is by far the largest airline in Manchester for transatlantic services. In 2019, it commanded 53% of the market, and was readying to welcome joint venture partner Delta to its ‘home in the north’. For Virgin, having an IAG airline move in on its territory is going to be an unwelcome event.

Virgin Atlantic Tui at Manchester
Manchester is Virgin’s ‘home in the north’. Photo: Getty Images

Speaking at CAPA Live this week, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, commented on Virgin’s commitment to Manchester, saying,

“Manchester is our home in the north. And we think there’s a great opportunity to serve the northern powerhouse out of Manchester. We have a deep bet on Manchester … there is a great opportunity to serve 20 million people within the vicinity and so much more.”

During his interview, Weiss commented on the developments at the northern English airport. He stated that, in addition to previously announced routes to India and Pakistan due to start in December, Virgin would be looking to restart Manchester properly in January.

As well as resuming existing services more thoroughly, Weiss is eyeing additional connectivity from the airport. He mentioned adding routes to the Caribbean, which would certainly be a boon for sun-hungry Brits fed up with being locked down at home.

Would you like to see Aer Lingus arriving in Manchester? Let us know in the comments.

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