By Pádraig Hoare
Aer Lingus will fly its newest aircraft -- a 313-seater Airbus A330-300 -- on its maiden voyage from Dublin to New York City today.
The aircraft, named St Carthage after a sixth century Irish bishop, cost in excess of $200m.
Aer Lingus now has a fleet of 63 aircraft, of which 15 will service its longhaul network.
The airline will operate its largest ever transatlantic schedule this summer, flying to 11 North American destinations with a total of 2.5 million transatlantic seats on offer, including a new direct service to Miami from Dublin starting in September.
New route Miami joins Aer Lingus’ existing transatlantic routes Boston, Chicago, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington and Toronto from Dublin and Boston and New York from Shannon, as well as Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford.
Aer Lingus has acknowledged that Norwegian Air and Wow Air will provide stiff competition, especially in Cork and Shannon Airports.
Norwegian will make history in July when a transatlantic flight will take off from Cork Airport for the first time. It will fly to TF Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, an hour’s drive from Boston in Massachusetts.
Norwegian boss Bjorn Kjos insists low-cost long-haul flights are sustainable as long as passenger demand is there.