Aer Lingus agrees Virgin lease deal

Aer Lingus has agreed to lease four planes to Virgin Atlantic along with crew, maintenance and legal liability to allow Virgin establish a short-haul operation in Britain.

Virgin is hoping that the 24 new domestic flights will create 130 flying jobs, which will also benefit Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus chief commercial officer Stephen Kavanagh said the airline was delighted to have reached an understanding with Virgin.

“We are very pleased to have reached agreement in principle with Virgin Atlantic to provide the aircraft, maintenance and crew with which they will serve their new domestic operations and look forward to now progressing to contract. Virgin Atlantic’s short-haul operation will directly create around 130 flying jobs and 25 new head office jobs to launch this short-haul operation and will indirectly protect roles in suppliers and other stakeholders, including ground-handling agents and airport teams,” he said.

Virgin Atlantic will focus its operations on flights to and from Scotland. From Apr 2013, the airline will operate six round-trip flights a day between Heathrow and Edinburgh, with three daily round-trip flights between Heathrow and Aberdeen.

Richard Branson’s airline will be taking over slots out of London Heathrow that British Airways has been forced to give up.

Following the announcement of the new routes Branson took to his company’s website to wager a £1m bet the company will still be operational in five years’ time.

“The last time BA had to make a settlement to me for damages (in part for spreading not dissimilar false rumours) I split the money amongst our staff. Rather than suing them on this occasion, I will pay £1m to their staff if Virgin Atlantic disappears within say five years. If not, BA pays our staff £1m,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Ryanair has supplied EU antitrust regulators with fresh concessions after earlier proposals by the airline failed to soothe competition concerns over its third bid to buy Aer Lingus.

The European Commission said on its website it would decide by Feb 27 whether to clear or block the deal, extending its review by 15 working days.

The commission did not give details of Ryanair’s latest proposals.

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