Aer Lingus and Emerald Airlines (Ireland) are in the final stages of negotiations that should see the start-up appointed as the Irish flag carrier’s new regional carrier this week. The new service is likely to begin in January 2022.

“Aer Lingus and Emerald Airlines are at the final stages of agreement, and Aer Lingus is hopeful that an announcement will be made in the coming days,” an Aer Lingus spokesperson informed ch-aviation by email. The Irish Times reported that Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton last week also confirmed that negotiations with Emerald were progressing well. “I would like to think they are close to a conclusion,” she added.

Emerald Airlines was not immediately available for comment.

As reported, the parties have been in talks since December about Emerald taking over the Aer Lingus Regional contract formerly held by Stobart Air, which folded in June. Stobart’s contract would have expired in December 2022.

Aer Lingus had sought new bids late last year. Stobart had tendered again, but Emerald emerged as preferred bidder in November, a move that contributed to the collapse of Stobart Air.

Founded by entrepreneur Conor McCarthy and several private investors, Emerald Airlines, in June confirmed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Aer Lingus for a ten-year contract to run the regional franchise from late 2022 until 2032. In the meantime, Aer Lingus and British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) regional subsidiary BA CityFlyer stepped in to operate the majority of Stobart's former routes.

McCarthy said Emerald hoped to secure its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and its Irish operating license from the Irish Aviation Authority by September 2021. The company reportedly has taken delivery of two ATR72-600s. McCarthy earlier confirmed the aircraft (formerly with Virgin Australia) – had undergone maintenance at Exeter Aerospace in the UK, a company owned by Dublin Aerospace, which he also owns. McCarthy said Emerald was in detailed negotiations for four additional aircraft and had been offered 34 options for the final eight that would make up a fleet of 14 by the end of the year.