Irish carrier Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) is seeking to enter the UK-US transatlantic market in the IATA summer season with flights from a new base at Manchester Int'l to New York JFK, Orlando Int'l, and Boston.

A new subsidiary, Aer Lingus (United Kingdom) (Belfast City), has been set up for this purpose and it expects to receive its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), operating license, and a route license from the UK Civil Aviation Authority around February 2021.

This is according to a joint application by Aer Lingus Limited (parent) and Aer Lingus (UK) to the US Department of Transportation. In terms of this, Aer Lingus (UK) has applied for a Foreign Operator's Permit to operate daily flights from Manchester to New York (JFK); daily summer flights and four flights per week in the winter to Orlando; and daily summer flights to Boston, a route that is currently unserved.

Two A330-300s, EI-EDY (msn 1025) and EI-ELA (msn 1106), will be used and, as such, will both be re-registered and placed on the UK registry. Two additional A321-200NXs, due to be delivered in February and March 2021 respectively, will also be registered in the UK for subsequent use.

Aer Lingus (UK) has requested to operate the services under the “Aer Lingus” name and EI designator code. It has also requested authority to use the “BA” designator code of fellow IAG International Airlines Group (IAG) carrier British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) on the services, but says it is not seeking any codeshare at this stage. It says both Aer Lingus Limited and British Airways currently hold all necessary route authority required to market the services by Aer Lingus (UK).

It is intended that base maintenance support would be provided by Sabena Technics and Dublin Aerospace, and line maintenance support would be provided by British Airways and parent Aer Lingus Limited.

In support of the application, the applicants say that with the closure of Thomas Cook Airlines UK (MT, Manchester Int'l) in 2019, all nonstop routes from Manchester to the US are forecast to be served by only one operator in 2021, with 70% of the peak summer capacity anticipated to be operated by Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow).

The joint applicants have requested the DoT to expedite their application. “Given the extraordinary market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to promote, advertise, and sell these services as quickly as possible could significantly contribute to the ultimate success of the competitive services proposed in this application,” the carriers said.

The Foreign Air Permit applied for covers foreign scheduled and charter air transportation of persons, property, and mail from points behind the territory of the UK, via the territory of the UK, and intermediate points to any point, or points in the territory of the US and beyond. It also covers foreign scheduled and charter cargo air transportation between any point or points in the US and beyond; other charter transportation pursuant to the prior approval; and transportation authorised by any additional route rights made available to UK carriers in the future.

The applicants have applied for exemption authority for a two-year period or until the requested FOP becomes effective, whichever occurs first.

The UK and the US on November 17, 2020, signed a new Open Skies agreement (US-UK Agreement) ensuring that air transport between the countries continues seamlessly in a post-Brexit environment which kicks in on January 1, 2021. Air traffic between the countries had been covered under the US-European Union (EU) Open Skies regime, but the UK’s exit from the EU made a new agreement necessary.

Aer Lingus (UK) has also requested that the DOT waive a requirement of the US-UK Agreement, that substantial ownership and effective control of Aer Lingus (UK) be vested in nationals of the UK.

Aer Lingus Limited, an Irish entity based at Dublin Airport, holds an EU operating license and will not be affected by the new US-UK Agreement. However, the Dublin-based parent, out of caution, has requested any additional exemption authority the DoT deems necessary for it to market UK-US flights operated by Aer Lingus (UK).