Aer Lingus’s chief operating officer has said that the introduction of low-cost transatlantic flights from Cork may hurt its transatlantic operations at Shannon Airport.
Earlier this month, Norwegian Air won approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation for flights between the U.S. and Ireland after a long fight due to opposition from U.S. carriers and airline labor groups.
The Irish Examiner reports that Mike Rutter, who was speaking at Cork Airport on plans to grow services out of the region, said he didn’t think Norwegian Air International’s U.S. - Cork flights would affect Dublin but did say that Shannon Airport's position as a carrier for Aer Lingus passengers to Boston and New York could be negatively impacted by the new transatlantic flights. London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports could also be affected.
Rutter said: “We don’t see that Norwegian will have any effect upon Dublin in a transatlantic fashion. Any marginal loss of traffic — and I mean marginal — we can more than fill. We have more demand than supply at the moment sometimes. We’re quite comfortable that when they start, it won’t affect Dublin.”
He added: “It may have an effect upon Shannon, where historically Aer Lingus has been committed to serving Boston and New York. We obviously will do our best to make sure that effect is as minimal as possible.”
Rutter said that Aer Lingus had no plans to introduce its own transatlantic flights from Cork Airport, but did says that may change in 2020 as the airline is looking at the A321neo aircraft, which is a smaller version of the A320 Airbus suitable for transatlantic travel.
“Beyond 2020, we are very interested in the A321neo long-range, which will potentially open up shorter sectors with lower density marketplaces. When we get to that stage, we’ll have a look again at the opportunities that may come around for us.”
He said Aer Lingus was committed to Cork and he emphasized that the airline would continue to be a driver for further growth. He said the airline wanted to aggressively push its German routes to Düsseldorf and Munich from Cork.
“Nobody should be under any illusion that we intend to do anything other than expand business in Cork. Our primary aim is to make Cork robust by spending enough money and we have made significant financial investment in the two German routes. They haven’t moved to land of milk and honey yet. Hopefully, they will stand on their own two feet in a couple of years and we can be aggressive in terms of growth.”
Aer Lingus also announced that it is increasing the capacity of a number of routes from Cork Airport for the 2017 summer schedule.
Norwegian Air's low-cost flights from Cork airport may start as early as this March, and fares as low as $69 to Ireland from New York could be on offer. It is expected that Shannon Airport will soon be offering similar fares.