Minister hails Aer Lingus growth plans

The purchase of two new long-haul aircraft by Aer Lingus is a sign of its ambitious growth plans, Transport Minister Martin Cullen said tonight.

The national airline expects the two Airbus A330 aircraft to be delivered by mid-2007.

Mr Cullen said the expansion of Aer Lingus’s long haul fleet from seven planes to nine was great news for the airline, its customers and the tourism industry.

“This purchase is a clear statement of intent on the part of the national airline and is an indication of the sort of ambitious growth potential of Aer Lingus.”

Aer Lingus is expected to announce new long haul routes following the relaxation of the current restrictions on transatlantic services.

The airline currently has 27 short haul aircraft, of which six are Airbus A321s and 21 A320s.

Its chief executive Dermot Mannion said the purchase of the extra long haul aircraft was an important interim step.

“Appropriate debt financing will be put in place well in advance of delivery. In the meantime, our evaluation of new generation long haul fleet opportunities from both Airbus and Boeing continues,” he said.

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