AER LINGUS, which reported a 10.4% rise in overall passenger numbers for May, compared with the same month last year, is to temporarily reduce a significant proportion of US-bound flights from Dublin and Shannon this winter, as a means of cutting costs.
The airline is planning a 15% cut in long-haul capacity between November and March. This reduction will result in a suspension of services on its Dublin-Los Angeles route for the entire winter and a reduction in frequency on its other routes to the US — between January and March — to allow for the refurbishment of three of its long-haul aircraft.
The company said that it has no further plans for long-haul route suspensions from either Dublin or Shannon, and that the Los Angeles decision stems from rising fuel costs, the weakness in the US dollar and generally slowing economies.
“The current environment of record high fuel prices, coupled with slowing economic growth globally,
is presenting the entire aviation sector with unprecedented challenges, from which Aer Lingus is not immune,” the airline’s chairman, John Sharman told shareholders at the company’s AGM Aer Lingus’ May passenger figures showed a 9.9% growth in short-haul custom and a 14% rise in long-haul ticket purchases, but long-haul load factors — the level of seats actually filled — was down year-on-year.
“We are committed to our medium-term long-haul growth strategy. However, we will continue to focus on actively managing our capacity and reducing our operating costs,” said Mr Sharman.
However, there are fears in the mid-west region that Aer Lingus is moving towards a complete withdrawal from Shannon.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy, the mayor of Clare, said yesterday: “It is hugely disappointing that Aer Lingus has decided to curtail its transatlantic services.”
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