New Route of the Day (20 October 2021): Aer Lingus between Manchester and Bridgetown
Aer Lingus on 20 October launched its first ever long-haul route from the UK, when it began 3-weekly service (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) on the 6,700-kilometre route between Manchester and Bridgetown in Barbados. This comes just four days after KLM began serving Barbados from Amsterdam. Aer Lingus operated the new route using G-EILA, one of two 317-seat A330-300s (the other is G-EIDY) which it has transferred to its UK subsidiary Aer Lingus UK (IATA code EG). According to local news sources, the inaugural flight arrived in Barbados with 128 passengers on board, indicating a load factor of 40%.
Competition from TUI Airways and Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic resumed its Manchester to Bridgetown service (VS77) on 7 August and is offering 3-weekly service on its 787-9s. A fourth weekly frequency is set to be added in November. TUI Airways will resume 2-weekly service from 4 November, with departures on Thursdays and Sundays according to the airline’s website booking platform. These flights are currently bookable until 21 April 2022. Until its collapse in September 2019, Thomas Cook Airlines also used to serve Barbados from Manchester during the winter season.
US flights coming soon
This Barbados service is just the first of several long-haul flights Aer Lingus plans to operate from Manchester. US flights to New York JFK and Orlando are currently set to begin on 1 December and 11 December respectively, with non-essential travel between Europe and the US finally being allowed to resume for fully vaccinated travellers from 8 November. Aer Lingus is planning to use an A321neo on the daily JFK route and the A330s on the 4-weekly Florida route. Both of these routes will also face direct competition from Virgin Atlantic. A further route to Boston is expected to start in the summer of 2022, but no precise launch date has yet been given.
Other Manchester services
Apart from these long-haul services, Aer Lingus also operates flights to Manchester from Dublin (currently 15-weekly) and Belfast BHD (currently daily). The latter route was launched in September 2020 to replace the service previously offered by Flybe before it failed. Initially, Stobart Air operated the route on behalf of Aer Lingus using ATR 72s. However, when Stobart Air collapsed earlier this summer, Aer Lingus continued operating the route with its own, much larger, 174-seat A320s, with frequency set to increase to 2-daily at the start of the upcoming winter season.