Aer Lingus, Ireland’s flag carrier, has said it is considering moving its trans-Atlantic services from Shannon Airport in the country’s midwest over to the UK, amid ongoing COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Irish Government.
The airline has invested in two new Airbus A321neo aircraft, currently based at Shannon Airport in County Clare, which traditionally had flown between Ireland, London Heathrow and the US.
The airline is now eyeing a move for both aircraft across the channel, to one of six regional airports in the UK, as the Irish government stands strong on its strict quarantine requirements for travellers from most countries around the world.
Reports suggest that Manchester and Edinburgh are both in contention for the new base, with both publicly eager to take hold of Aer Lingus’ Boston and New York routes.
The Irish Times reported that regional gateway airports throughout the UK have been invited by Aer Lingus to put forward their tenders for the Irish flag carrier’s trans-Atlantic business, and the airline will be announcing its decision in the coming months.
The move will likely have a devastating impact on the economy of Ireland’s midwestern region, and on Shannon Airport itself, both of which are heavily reliant on tourism from the US.
Both United and Delta Air Lines recently announced they would not be resuming flights to Shannon in 2021, leaving American Airlines as the only carrier serving trans-Atlantic routes out of Shannon, following the exit of Aer Lingus.
A spokesman for Shannon Airport said it remains in talks with the airline about resuming flights to the US and London, noting that these flights were “critical” to the survival of businesses in the west and south of Ireland.
“These and other services have been suspended due to advice against non-essential travel, and their resumption is among the key recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, which included a call for a stimulus package for airports in the regions to encourage the rebuilding of traffic,” the spokesman said.