By Ray O’Hanlon and Andrew Bushe
Aer Lingus has slashed fares by up to 70 percent on 26 routes in a seat sale aimed at wooing back nervous customers and filling near empty planes.
The special offers, which must be booked through Oct. 18 and are available for travel until Dec. 16, will mean return fares out of New York or Boston as low as $298.
The airline has been offering a $198 roundtrip fare from New York or Boston to Ireland over the past week. That fare expires Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The new fare, though $100 higher, is still a significant reduction over fares that normally operate at this time of year. Indeed, the offered fares have not been in place at this time of year for more than two decades.
Fare cuts were already planned against the backdrop of a slumping economy, but Sept. 11 sent airline chiefs back to the drawing board.
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According to one informed source, Aer Lingus North America sent a proposed cut-price package to the carrier’s headquarters in Dublin but was told to be even more aggressive in its fare-slashing.
That advice resulted in the $198 round-trip fare that has been operating over the last week.
The lower fares are part of an overall package aimed at pulling Aer Lingus out of the financial tailspin that is affecting airlines around the world since Sept. 11.
The package will also include job cuts and already the airline has moved to mothball its services out of Newark and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. airports from Oct. 28. The connection from New York to Belfast will also end on that date.
The route cutbacks will mean that after Oct. 28, Aer Lingus will be operating 33 roundtrip flights per week from North America to Ireland as opposed to 40 flights a week during the same period last year.