Aer Lingus has signed a 10-year franchise agreement with Emerald Airlines to operate its regional flights.
The deal, which kicks in from January 1 2023, comes after the closure of Stobart Air, which had been operating Aer Lingus regional services until it ceased trading in June.
Although the new contract is not due to start for 18 months, Aer Lingus said it continues to “work closely with Emerald Airlines to evaluate options with respect to an earlier contract start date in light of Stobart Air recently ceasing operations”.
Lynne Embleton, Aer Lingus Chief Executive, said the announcement “significantly boosts” the airline’s intent to develop Dublin Airport as a hub between Europe and the US.
“This franchise agreement with Emerald Airlines marks a new chapter in Aer Lingus Regional services and brings choice and certainty to our customers flying between Ireland, the UK and beyond,” she said.
“We very much look forward to partnering with Emerald Airlines, and to growing and developing Aer Lingus Regional over the coming years.”
The agreement will allow convenient connections between Ireland and regional airports in the UK, the Isle of Man and Jersey, with options for network expansion to further airports in the future.
Emerald Airlines will operate ATR turboprop aircraft on the regional routes in Aer Lingus branding and livery.
Conor McCarthy, Emerald Airlines Founder and Chief Executive, said: “This is a major development for Irish Aviation and the wider tourism industry. The combined strengths of both airlines will allow us to offer optimised connectivity from popular cities and routes across Ireland, the UK and beyond.
“Emerald Airlines have ambitious plans to grow and develop this partnership over the next few years with the first ATR aircraft joining shortly.
“As we add additional aircraft to our fleet we will be recruiting more than 400 new staff members – a great boost for the industry which has been so badly impacted by the pandemic.”
Since the collapse of Stobart Air, Aer Lingus has been operating a replacement schedule for regional customers, operating six routes until at least the end of March 2022.
BA CityFlyer is operating four additional routes for the rest of summer 2021.