Category: Archive

Aer Lingus L.A. service to debut in ’99

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Almost nine years after it first secured rights to fly to Los Angeles, Aer Lingus this week announced plans to finally open the route in June of next year.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said that beginning June 1999, it will operate a nonstop service out of L.A. to Dublin with continuing service to Shannon.

The airline has ordered a new long-range Airbus A330-200 to cover the roughly 6,000 miles between the U.S. West Coast and Ireland’s east.

The Aer Lingus statement said the new service was subject "to final details."

Aer Lingus presently connects the U.S. to Ireland out of four main airports: JFK in New York, Newark, N.J., Boston’s Logan and Chicago’s O’Hare airports.

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The carrier’s statement said that addition of Los Angeles as a "fifth gateway" would increase the airline’s transAtlantic capacity by more than 20 percent.

This increase will come on top of several years of rapid growth on the Atlantic, an expansion that followed the near total collapse of the airline’s Atlantic service in the early 1990s.

"In the past five years, Aer Lingus has grown by more than 70 percent over the Atlantic, with the airline investing in a fleet of six new Airbus A330 aircraft to operate on the U.S. routes," Aer Lingus Executive Vice President-North America Jack Foley said.

"The Los Angeles gateway fulfills a major piece of our expansion strategy. Los Angeles was selected after a nine-month study of a number of cities. We determined that it was exactly the right fit, commercially, demographically and strategically."

In terms of distance spanned, the Los Angeles service will be the most dramatic jump for Aer Lingus since the airline began transAtlantic jet services in the late 1950s. According to the airline’s statement, the L.A. service will provide "convenient access to Ireland from the growing markets of Australia and New Zealand."

Aer Lingus secured its rights to Los Angeles back in late 1989 after extensive negotiations between the Irish and U.S. governments. The securing of the route was hailed at the time by then Aer Lingus Chief Executive Cathal Mullan as "of tremendous importance in terms of tourist and industrial development for Ireland."

The initial agreement anticipated a Shannon-L.A. link using Boeing 767 aircraft. When the agreement was first secured all flights into Ireland from the U.S. had to land first at Shannon before proceeding to Dublin.

In the intervening years, however, the Shannon stopover requirement was been scrapped and Aer Lingus has concentrated its long-distance aircraft orders with the European consortium, Airbus Industrie.

Back in 1989, the intention was to start up the L.A. passenger service in the spring of 1991. That did not happen. In late 1990, the L.A. service was put on hold in the face of a worldwide slump in air transport — partly fueled by what was then the growing crisis in the Persian Gulf — a weak U.S. economy and a tumbling dollar.

An additional intervening factor was a strike at Boeing that delayed delivery of the required 767.

Another effort was made by Aer Lingus to get the service off the ground in the latter half of 1991. The idea then was to start the service in early ’92. But this plan fell victim to the intense political debate at the time over the future of the Shannon stopover.

In the following couple of years Aer Lingus began facing severe financial problems on transAtlantic routes, even on old reliables such as New York and Boston. But more recent years have witnessed a turnaround in the carrier’s fortunes to the point where an L.A. service nine months from now would seem to be a case of third time the charm.

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