Emerald Airlines (Ireland) (EA, Dublin International) has clinched a long-term deal with Belfast City to establish a new home-based carrier flying under the Aer Lingus Regional brand later this year.

The company has established an airline company in Northern Ireland (Emerald Airlines (United Kingdom) (Belfast City)). It expects to secure its UK Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) and Operating Licence (OL) by June 2022. Still, it has "workaround solutions" for Belfast in place for March 2022, Chief Executive Officer Conor McCarthy has told ch-aviation.

Meanwhile, the Irish regional startup is scheduled to debut Aer Lingus Regional feeder flights on 12 routes out of its home base of Dublin on February 26 under a ten-year franchise agreement with Aer Lingus. Its Irish Air Operator' Certificate (AOC) was issued in September 2021.

From its second base at Belfast, the airline will operate high-frequency routes to Birmingham, GB, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow International, Leeds/Bradford, and Manchester International. More routes are to be announced throughout 2022. All will be operated under the franchise agreement as Aer Lingus Regional.

McCarthy said the startup was also in advanced talks with British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) and Aer Lingus regarding code-shares and other cooperation to maintain the continuity and benefits of current services offered by both airlines at Belfast City Airport.

All flights will be operated with ATR72-600 turboprops. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the company at present only has two of the type, but previously announced plans to acquire another four.

"Operational set-up continues at pace, with the Belfast City base, our UK AOC, and employee recruitment progressing extremely well. We have received almost 1,000 applications for our Belfast-based roles and are now in the final stages of our recruiting process with the first round of training commencing in February," McCarthy said.

Mainline Aer Lingus and British Airways services to London Heathrow and London City from Belfast City Airport will remain unchanged.