The Irish carrier, which will soon bid farewell to controversial chief executive Willie Walsh, has had to temporarily pull its scheduled flight from JFK in New York to Shannon.
This has resulted in Shannon-bound flyers having to first land in London, and in some cases Amsterdam, before backtracking to their intended destination in County Clare.
“It’s an operational scheduling issue as a result of having one less aircraft in service,” said Aer Lingus North America spokesman Brian Murphy.
The plane in question, an A330 Airbus, has been in for repair since a freak wind caused a collision between two Aer Lingus A330s at Dublin Airport on the New Year’s weekend. The gust pushed the nose of one Airbus into the wing of another.
One of the Airbus planes was actually supposed to be in Shannon at the time of its close encounter. But the plane had been delayed at Dublin because of an industrial action by some Aer Lingus staff in Shannon resulting from the closure by Aer Lingus management of two check-in desks.
Damage sustained by both aircraft resulted in cancellations out of both Dublin and Shannon airports and the loss of return-flight services out of New York, Boston and Chicago.
Aer Lingus leased four aircraft in the days that followed in order to clear a backlog of stranded passengers.
One of the damaged A330s made a quick return to service. All the leased planes have been returned to their owners, but the JFK-to-Shannon service is still short an A330 because the second damaged Airbus has remained in the repair hangar longer than initially expected.
“Instead of three [daily] flights to Ireland out of Kennedy we now have two. But everything will return to normal by the end of the month,” Murphy said, adding that Shannon was still being serviced.
The overnight JFK-to-Dublin flight is first landing at Shannon in the manner of the onetime stopover. However, a source familiar with operations at Shannon claimed that priority seating was being given on this flight to Dublin-bound passengers.
As a result, many Shannon passengers were being diverted to London, from which there were direct flights back to Shannon, and Amsterdam, from which there was no direct service to Shannon.
Murphy said that the loss of the Shannon-only flight had not just affected Shannon-bound passengers. Dublin-bound passengers, he said, were also having to reaccommodated on flights to London with other carriers such as American Airlines and British Airways.