Emerald Airlines (Ireland) (EAI) - which recently clinched the new Aer Lingus Regional franchise - has announced it has been granted its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and operator's license from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), making it the Emerald Isle’s newest airline.

The start-up completed its proving flight, EAI 001, from Dublin to Cork on September 3, 2021, it informed in a statement. It has been assigned the call sign GEMSTONE and EAI as its three-letter designator by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It has also been granted a Type B operator's licence, IAA records show.

According to Emerald Airlines’ franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, the airline will operate two ATR72-600s (formerly from Virgin Australia) on regional routes with Aer Lingus branding and livery when its contract starts on January 1, 2023, for a period of ten years. Although the undertaking is not due to commence for 17 months, Emerald Airlines said it was working closely with the Irish flag carrier to evaluate options with respect to an earlier start date. It is also negotiating for four additional aircraft of the same type.

“Being granted the first AOC in Ireland since the pandemic is not only a major milestone in our journey as an airline but a significant one for the Irish Aviation industry as it begins its recovery following the worst crisis in its history,” commented founder and chief executive, Conor McCarthy. “We are now able to progress towards the launch of scheduled services, which will be rolled out progressively as our aircraft are delivered and market conditions allow. We will be working very closely with Aer Lingus on this now that we have our AOC in place,” he added.

Speaking at the handing over of the Certificate, IAA Aviation Regulator, Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, said the emergence of a new Irish airline was a big lift for the country's aviation and travel industry following the difficult past 18 months of the pandemic.

As previously reported, the previous contract-holder of the Aer Lingus Regional franchise, Stobart Air (RE, Dublin Int'l), ceased operations in June 2021. Until Emerald takes over, Aer Lingus will continue to operate six regional routes until at least the end of March 2022, BA CityFlyer (CJ, London City) will also operate four additional routes for the rest of the 2021 summer.