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Aer Lingus launches lower internet fares

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Just days after scrapping commissions for travel agents, Aer Lingus this week moved to unveil a new internet ticket sales service.

The new service is called “@erfares” and is aimed at wooing back passengers with lower ticket prices all year round. Potential passengers will be able to monitor ticket prices without having to wait for special sale offers, an Aer Lingus statement said. The lower fares, with varying discounts depending on time of week and time of year, will not apply to every trans-Atlantic seat.

Availability of @erfares seats would be on going but seats would be limited, Jack Foley, Aer Lingus’ vice president North America, said in the statement.

“So customers seeing these fares should act quickly,” Foley said.

According to Foley, use of the internet will eliminate the need for Aer Lingus to advertise short term seat sales.

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Foley described this method of flagging cheaper seats as both costly and inefficient.

The @erfares option was up and running on the Aer Lingus website as the Echo went to press.

The move by the Irish carrier is part of a broader strategy of cutting costs after months of declining revenues caused by the foot and mouth crisis, a general economic downturn and, most crucially, the September 11 attack on America.

“Each initiative plays an integral part of out survival plan,” the Aer Lingus statement said.

In the long run, any trend toward booking tickets over the internet should allow Aer Lingus to save money by reducing staff levels in its over-the-phone tickets sales department.

Last week’s decision to discontinue commissions to travel agents is also another money-saving move.

Internet ticket sales have been used by U.S. carriers for some time. Generally, the tactic is most effective where there is a large number of options to a particular destination.

As stated in its “@erfares” release, Aer Lingus is currently able to offer only a limited number of cheaper seats on a trans-Atlantic route schedule that was drastically trimmed in the wake of 9/11. In the event of an upturn in passenger numbers, and resumption of Aer Lingus services out of Newark and Baltimore/Washington D.C., the lower fare options open to internet booking traveler will likely expand.

“This is a whole new ball game,” Paddy Moroney of Medway Travel in Boston said in reference to the Aer Lingus internet move. “We knew it was coming and it will undoubtedly affect our business. But an internet site doesn’t promote bookings or fully explain options.”

Moroney acknowledged that travelers will quickly turn to an internet site if they feel it will offer cheaper fares, but he added that such a method of booking can pose problems.

“What do you do if there is a problem or a need to change travel plans? You’re on your own and there’s nobody to go to bat for you,” Moroney said. “You can always reach your travel agent in a situation like this and a good travel agent will always contact the client if a problem arises.”

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