Emerald Airlines launches first flight on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional; 12 Dublin routes by end of April
Emerald Airlines (IATA code EA) became Ireland’s newest airline when it operated its first flight (on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional) on Saturday 26 February between Dublin and Donegal (IATA code CFN which represents the nearby town of Carrickfinn) in the north-west of Ireland. The 225-kilometre route will be operated 2-daily by the carrier using an ATR 72-600, registration EI-GPP. Emerald Airlines is replacing now defunct Stobart Air as the provider of aircraft and crews for Aer Lingus’s regional operations, which will mostly involve serving UK airports from Dublin. For much of February, EI-GPP has been operating crew training flights between Bristol and Exeter. A second ATR 72-600 (registration EI-GPN) has also been operating training flights during February between Bristol and Exeter and between Dublin and Shannon, according to flightradar24.com. The fleet is expected to grow to some seven aircraft this summer.
Dublin and Donegal were previously connected by Aer Arann (until October 2011) and then by Flybe (with flights operated by Loganair) between November 2011 and January 2015. Stobart Air then took over the route operating on behalf of Aer Lingus until its collapse in June 2021. After a lack of service for several weeks, Swedish regional carrier Amapola Flyg was awarded a contract to operate the state-subsidised route for seven months, starting on 26 July 2021. It used Fokker 50s on the route (which must have been a thrill for Ireland’s avgeeks!) with the last service operating on Friday 25 February.
Emerald launching flights to UK shortly
In the coming weeks, Emerald Airlines is set to start the following routes from Dublin, all operating in Aer Lingus colours, using Aer Lingus flight numbers and bookable on Aer Lingus’s website. On some of these routes it will replace Aer Lingus mainline, on some it will complement Aer Lingus’s mainline service and others will be served for the first time since Stobart Air collapsed.
- Birmingham (27 March): daily, currently operated by Aer Lingus mainline who will continue to operate 2-daily from 27 March with A320s.
- Bristol (27 March): daily increasing to 3-daily, currently operated daily by Aer Lingus mainline with A320s. Aer Lingus mainline service ends 25 March.
- Edinburgh (27 March): 3-daily, currently operated up to 2-daily by Aer Lingus mainline with A320s. Aer Lingus mainline service ends 26 March.
- Exeter (29 April): 5-weekly.
- Glasgow (17 March): 13-weekly, currently operated up to 2-daily by Aer Lingus mainline with A320s. Aer Lingus mainline service ends 26 March.
- Isle of Man (16 March): daily.
- Jersey (28 May): weekly.
- Leeds Bradford (15 April): 13-weekly.
- Manchester (27 March): 13-weekly increasing to 20-weekly, currently operated up to 3-daily by Aer Lingus mainline with A320s. Will continue to be operated up to 2-daily by mainline after 26 March.
- Newcastle (15 April): daily.
- Newquay (29 April): 4-weekly.
Ryanair will provide competition on seven of the 12 routes; Birmingham (30-weekly scheduled for August 2022), Bristol (20-weekly), Edinburgh (28-weekly), Glasgow (21-weekly), Leeds Bradford (14-weekly), Manchester (39-weekly) and Newcastle (14-weekly). Blue Island competes on the Jersey service with 6-weekly flights.
Belfast City base planned
Emerald Airlines is also planning to make Belfast BHD a base this summer and launch regular flights to six destinations; four in England and two in Scotland. These will again be operated on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional. Start dates for these routes have yet to be confirmed. The airport had also been a base for Stobart Air before its demise. Industry speculation suggests that Emerald Airlines could find itself competing with the resuscitated Flybe at Belfast BHD, although the Birmingham-based carrier has yet to reveal any routes for this summer.
What they said
Conor McCarthy, CEO and Founder of Emerald Airlines, said: “Today marks a huge milestone in our journey to become Ireland’s largest regional airline. There has been a considerable amount of hard work behind the scenes in order to make this day a reality. I would like to thank all those involved; especially our amazing team at Emerald Airlines, our partners in Aer Lingus, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton and their team at the Department of Transport, and our friends at Donegal Airport.”