Aer Lingus (United Kingdom) (EG, Belfast City) has wet-leased A320-200 capacity from sister carrier British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) to operate its only domestic route in the United Kingdom, between Belfast City and London Heathrow, starting October 30, 2022.

While the airline did not explain the change in the operator of its 3x daily shuttle between Northern Ireland and England, trade union Forsá stressed that it was due to a lack of an appropriate UK Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). As an Irish airline, Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin International) lost the right to ply domestic services in the UK after Brexit. Accordingly, Aer Lingus (UK) became the marketing carrier, although flights were still operated by the Irish unit using A320-200s under a temporary ACMI agreement.

"We've been flexible with Aer Lingus to find a sustainable solution which satisfies the requirements of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement that no longer relies on the wet-leasing arrangements," a spokesperson of the UK Civil Aviation Authority said.

Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows British Airways is currently deploying G-EUYN (msn 4975) on the route. Flights are operated on behalf of Aer Lingus (UK), although under Aer Lingus's "EI" code.

Aer Lingus (UK) has been forced to wet-lease in capacity because its in-house fleet is geared towards long-haul services to Northern America from the UK. The ch-aviation fleets module shows the carrier's fleet includes one A321-200NX(LR) and one A330-300, which are deployed from Manchester International to New York JFK and Orlando International, respectively.

Aer Lingus said it was still in talks concerning its future operations on the route but stressed it intended to keep the service active.

The development does not impact routes out of Belfast operated on Aer Lingus's behalf by Emerald Airlines (Ireland) (EA, Dublin International) under the Aer Lingus Regional partnership. The regional capacity provider told ch-aviation that it had established Emerald Airlines (United Kingdom) specifically with those routes in mind. The UK-based unit is currently undergoing certification.

"As of March 2022, Emerald Airlines has been operating its Belfast City routes under an arrangement with British Airways. Once the carrier has been granted its UK AOC, Emerald Airlines (United Kingdom) will continue to operate and grow its Belfast operations," the carrier's spokesperson said.