Aer Lingus to suspend Belfast- London Heathrow service under post-Brexit rules

Irish airline Aer Lingus is set to suspend its service between Belfast and Heathrow at the end of October in accordance with the post-Brexit rules, media reports have said.

Since the UK left the European Union, EU-based carriers are not permitted to operate scheduled services on UK domestic routes. Aer Lingus has been running the route under a temporary licence, which has now come to an end. Meanwhile, the carrier’s sister airline, British Airways, will run a three-flights-per-day service over winter. A final service from Aer Lingus will run on Sunday October 30.

‘We have not prohibited any airline from operating in the UK, a UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson reported, adding: ‘After the UK left the European Union, all UK-based airlines have to operate under a UK operating licence which governs the traffic rights they may hold.’

According to the spokesperson, the service operated by Aer Lingus UK between Belfast and London currently uses ‘a wet-leased capacity arrangement from its parent company, the Irish airline, Aer Lingus’. This has been the case over the past two years while a long-term solution was sought.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said, ‘Aer Lingus is very keen to continue operating the Belfast City – Heathrow London service, which we have been operating since 2007.’

‘We are engaging with the relevant authorities in order to allow us to continue to serve this route into the future. For the upcoming winter season, we will be working with our sister airline, British Airways, to ensure there is continuity of service and no impact to any of our passengers’ journeys.’

Following Brexit, UK passport holders are classified as third-country nationals and can only stay within the EU or Schengen area for 90 days within any 180 days.

Effective May 2023, the EU entry-exit system will see an automated IT system that will replace the manual checks and passport stamping for third-country nationals on entry and exit from the EU and the Schengen area. EES will register the data and place of entry and exit and take finger prints and a biometric photograph whenever a traveller crosses the EU border.