The new Aer Lingus base at Manchester, serving transatlantic routes, is on track to open in September. This was highlighted in its parent IAG’s earnings presentation today, which also saw Aer Lingus fall to a loss of over $220 million. But with Ireland reopened for travel on July 19th and Manchester ready to go, the closing six months of the year could yield better results.
Manchester on track for September start
The highly anticipated launch of the new Aer Lingus base is on track to take place at the end of the summer. The base was due to open on July 29th but was pulled back after no opening of borders between the US and UK was seen to be taking shape.
In IAG’s second-quarter results presentation, the group said that the Manchester base will open in September 2021. While travel between the two countries is still difficult, particularly for UK residents visiting the States, the opening for double jabbed visitors from the US to the UK is a positive sign.
The IAG airline will operate to two US destinations from September 30th – New York JFK and Orlando. From summer 2022, it is set to add Boston to the network from Manchester. As well as this, it will fly to Barbados from Manchester starting October 20th.
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Irish restrictions have hampered passenger traffic
Until July 19th, travel for non-essential purposes was outlawed in Ireland. This restriction caused much contention among airlines and travel operators, and was reflected in Aer Lingus’ results today.
In its report, IAG noted,
“Aer Lingus capacity continued to be severely limited by the stringent restrictions put in place by the Irish government, with passenger load factors averaging only 20 per cent. Operations continue to be driven by cargo needs with flights operating regularly to New York, Chicago and Boston.”
According to the financial statements of IAG, the overall available seat kilometers (ASK) across the Group airlines was down 79.2% against 2019 for the first six months of the year. Against 2020, it was down 52.5%. However, the Group is planning a significant ramp-up of its flights in the coming months as travel restrictions slowly ease.
A loss of €192 million
Aer Lingus as an airline registered a loss of €192 million ($229 million), which was a drop in the ocean compared to the Group’s overall loss of €2 billion ($2.4 billion). Nevertheless, it was reflective of the much lower capacity brought forward by the airline, and its significantly low passenger load factors of just 20%.
The airline did receive a bailout from Ireland, although not a huge one. The Group stated that,
“On December 23, 2020, Aer Lingus entered into a financing arrangement with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund for €75 million. On March 27, 2021, Aer Lingus entered into a further financing arrangement to extend the total amount to €150 million. The facility is repayable in 2023.”
With restrictions in Ireland easing as of July 19th, things could start to get better for Aer Lingus. With the Manchester base just eight weeks away from opening, there’s much hope for a better outcome through the back half of 2021.