Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Airline’s Belfast operation a role model

Aer Lingus cabin crew member Sherry Moneypenny shields Paul Alexander and Holly Capper from the rain at Belfast International as plans are finalised for the launch on September 27 of the airline’s new service to sunny Lanzarote

Aer Lingus has said that its Belfast base could act as a role model for its operations elsewhere as the airline reviews is operations and costs.

Corporate affairs director Enda Corneille said they were very pleased with how their Belfast operation, where 110 staff are based, was going.

The airline started operations from Belfast International last December and this autumn will be operating 11 routes from the airport.

Mr Corneille said that in July and August the average load factor on services from Belfast was a satisfactory 74%.

He predicted that over the winter, volumes would be maintained but returns would be down because lower fares were available.

Mr Corneille claimed that Aer Lingus was performing particularly well on the London Heathrow route, where it is competing with bmi from George Best Belfast City Airport.

He said: “Civil Aviation Authority statistics form July showed that we had a 40% share of the market, but only 30% of capacity.

“This autumn we are starting three new routes - to Lanzarote, Milan and Munich and we are encouraged by the advance bookings.

“We are also pleased to see strong inward traffic on routes from places such as Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona, all evidence of Northern Ireland’s increasing attractiveness as a visitor destination.”

Mr Corneille said that, as announced recently, Aer Lingus was carrying out a fundamental review of the shape of the organisation.

“Belfast will be seen as a model in terms of productivity and set-up,” he said. “If anything, we would want to repicate the operation we have here.

“We are very pleased with Belfast and rather than being under any sort of threat, it could act as a template for our other bases.”

Mr Corneille said he expected that the review would be completed by the end of this month, and details would be published at that stage.

Recently Aer Lingus announced that bookings for flights from Belfast had passed the 500,000 mark, which Mr Corneille said was ahead of the target the airline had set when it launched in Northern Ireland.

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