Irish carrier Aer Lingus has received tentative approval to fly nonstop between the United Kingdom and the United States. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) issued the tentative approval on Friday. However, Aer Lingus will need to continue to get the ground game and regulatory approval in the UK before launching flights. However, Aer Lingus’ Manchester to US services are coming closer to fruition.
US DOT grants Aer Lingus tentative approval
Assuming Aer Lingus can obtain an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the United Kingdom. The DOT has granted approval for the airline to run UK to US flights under an Aer Lingus UK banner.
Aer Lingus is targeting three routes out of Manchester Airport (MAN). This includes flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Orlando International Airport (MCO), and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
The approval comes after Aer Lingus had applied back in December for the opportunity to fly these routes with two Airbus A330-300s and two Airbus A321LR aircraft.
Aer Lingus is a reputed and established carrier, and it should get an AOC in the UK soon. However, given the DOT ruling, Aer Lingus can start to sell tickets once it decides the time is right. Aer Lingus previously wanted to sell tickets from early January, but the DOT approval did not come then. Given this, it is likely that Aer Lingus will open up sales on Manchester to US nonstop flights soon enough.
The routes out of Manchester
In a filing from December, Aer Lingus stated it sought to run these flights after the closure of Thomas Cook Airlines. That left mainly Virgin Atlantic holding down the fort on Manchester to US routes, and the airline saw an opportunity to jump in.
The carrier’s December filing highlighted that the airline sought to start up Manchester to New York, Orlando, and Boston operations first. With New York-JFK getting daily service, Orlando getting four flights per week in the winter and daily flights in the summer, and Boston getting summer-seasonal daily flights.
Currently, Virgin Atlantic is the only airline with nonstop operations in service or planned from Manchester to New York and Orlando. Boston does not have a nonstop link to Manchester currently.
Growing alliance presence
Aer Lingus is not part of the oneworld alliance currently. However, it is a part of the transatlantic joint business venture between American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair.
Manchester is currently not a major oneworld airport, and it is dominated by low-cost carriers such as Jet2, easyJet, Ryanair, and TUI. Virgin Atlantic has a small presence in Manchester, with long-haul international flights.
Previously, American Airlines used to fly to Manchester from Philadelphia. However, in the wake of the ongoing crisis, the airline cut Manchester operations entirely and has not yet indicated a plan to resume operations to Manchester, if it ever does.
Without a major oneworld presence and losing some nonstop service to the Virgin Atlantic-Air France-KLM-Delta partnership, Aer Lingus appears to be a good way for the alliance to fill in the gaps and expand transatlantic opportunities for the joint venture partners.
As for if Manchester will become a connecting hub, that is not very clear. The dominant British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair hubs in London, Madrid, and Helsinki, respectively, are the airlines’ preferred connecting hubs, and any competition from Manchester could weaken some of those hubs, so the joint venture partners will be cognizant of developing Manchester into a full-fledged alliance hub.
Nevertheless, expect Aer Lingus Manchester to UK flights to go on sale soon for routes to Boston, Orlando, and New York. Time will tell how this expansion plays out, but it seems that the airlines could have a decent shot and turning this into a profitable enterprise, assuming travel restrictions lift ahead of these inaugural flights.
Are you excited for Aer Lingus to begin Manchester to US flights? Will you fly any of these routes? Let us know in the comments!