Aer Lingus Announces Change of Airport Base in Belfast

Aer Lingus, an Ireland-based airline company, is to relocate its operations in Belfast, North Ireland.

The airline, which has been operating out of Belfast International Airport, will be based at the George Best Belfast City Airport from the commencement of its winter schedule on October 28, 2012.

Christoph Mueller, the airline’s chief executive officer, said, ‘Northern Ireland’s vital London connections are secure with Aer Lingus. The two aircraft which we normally use in the winter for a mixture of sun destinations and Heathrow will be used for Heathrow and Gatwick with a third aircraft serving two European routes in the new-look summer schedule.

This is a commercial decision delivering value for our customers and the company. George Best Belfast City Airport delivers a compelling location and a strong history of business flying. We believe the move will appeal to the 600,000 plus passengers annually who fly with us and especially the business traveller who now has a choice of two London airports with Aer Lingus.’

The airline has decide to relocate its operations following a tender process that involved both airports, and it will be maintaining two aircraft at the city airport during the winter, and three in the summer flying season.

Brian Ambrose, the chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, said, ‘We extend a warm welcome to Aer Lingus and look forward to working closely with the airline in creating a strong base in which to develop a growing route network.

I am delighted with the frequency of services to London Heathrow and Gatwick. By the end of October, Belfast City will offer Northern Ireland’s only linkage to Heathrow with 10 flights per day.’

Aer Lingus Announces 2012 Winter Schedule and Quarterly Results

Aer Lingus, an Ireland-based airline company, has just released its winter schedule for 2012, with new routes and expanded services, as well as its 2012 first quarter financial results.

The airline is offering six new routes, Dublin to Verona (Italy) and Stockholm (Sweden); and Cork to Brussels (Belgium). The other destinations on offer include Copenhagen (Denmark), Bordeaux (France) and Venice (Italy).

The airline is also offering increased flights on several of its existing routes, including Berlin (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands), in addition to Lanzarote and Tenerife, in Spain.

The airline director of communications, Declan Kearney, said, ‘This announcement supports Aer Lingus’ strategy to provide greater access and choice for Irish customers with over 1,100 flights a week to and from Ireland. In addition, our continued focus is to support the growth of inbound business and tourism links.

We look forward to welcoming customers on board our new services and to continue in our mission of connecting Ireland with the world, by offering the most flight and the best product in the Irish market.’

The airline has also recently reported its 2012 first quarter results, with an operating loss of €36.1 million, a 32.8 percent improvement from that in first quarter of 2011. The company has also reported that passenger volumes in the first quarter of 2012 have increased by 12.1 percent, compared to prior year, and retail revenue per passenger increased by 8.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011.

Failte Ireland Announces Tourism Incentives to Build Dublin Brand

Failte Ireland, the Irish tourism development authority, has announced its initiatives as part of a programme for developing tourism in Ireland.

Previously, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) had released a report on the best ways of exploiting Dublin’s potential for boosting tourism in Ireland.

Failte Ireland has already implemented many initiatives for increasing Ireland’s tourism potential, including the city’s new EUR4 million themed heritage trail, named Dubline; investing around EUR5.5million in developing Meeting House Square, The Book of Kells exhibition at Trinity College, and the Dublinia as tourist attractions, among other projects.

Failte Ireland is also offering a new and dedicated, Visit Dublin division, to endorse Dublin as a premier travel destination. Visit Dublin will be rolling out a new marketing campaign across the globe, aimed at changing the way that tourists from around the world look at the city. The campaign will include, amongst other things, significant investments in major festivals for the city, and the launch of an updated version of the Visit Dublin App for smartphones.

Keith McCormack, the head of Visit Dublin, Failte Ireland, said, ‘The recovery of tourism in Dublin will depend on a team approach. This will involve the public sector agencies, tourism businesses and, crucially, the wider business community’s involvement.

We particularly welcome the emphasis in ITIC’s report on partnership across all of Dublin city’s stakeholders. The business of tourism is not just for tourism businesses – there is something to gain for every business in Dublin if tourism continues to grow.’

Aer Lingus Regionals Announces New Service to Birmingham

Aer Lingus Regionals, a service offered by Irish regional airline, Aer Arann, under a franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, an Ireland-based airline, is currently offering a new service from Ireland West Airport Knock, in Ireland, to Birmingham, England.

Aer Lingus Regional is offering a daily flight from Ireland West Airport Knock to Birmingham, with connectivity for business and leisure travellers to the second largest city in Great Britain. Flight bookings are available on the airline’s website.

The interim chief executive officer for Aer Arann, Sean Brogan, said, ‘We are delighted to commence our Aer Lingus Regional Ireland West Airport Knock to Birmingham service. We recognise the vital importance of regional air connectivity and the key role that this air link to Birmingham provides for business, tourism and leisure travel. We look forward to working with our partners in Ireland West Airport Knock to ensure that this route continues to be a success.’

Joe Gilmore, the managing director of Ireland West Airport Knock, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Aer Lingus Regional’s first flight to the Airport from Birmingham.

Our Birmingham service has long been one of our most established routes from the airport and I am sure the uninterrupted continuation of the service will come as welcome news to the thousands of UK visitors who use this service regularly as well as the Irish people travelling to the Birmingham region for business and leisure purposes. We wish Aer Lingus Regional every success with the new service’ and look forward to working with them to grow the service.’

Easyjet Announces More Services from Belfast

Easyjet, a UK-based airline, has announced additional services on its routes from Belfast International Airport to Edinburgh, Manchester and four other airports in the UK.

The airline is also launching new flights to Birmingham from Belfast from October 28, 2012.

The expanded services include an increase from three to four daily flights between Belfast and Edinburgh on Mondays, an increase from two to three daily flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; an increase from two to three flights between Belfast and Manchester daily on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and an increase of flights on weekday mornings and evenings between Belfast and Gatwick, Luton, Southend and Stansted airports.

The airfares commence from £20.99 one way on the new route, and £15.99 one way to all London airports.

Ali Gayward, the airline commercial manager, said, ‘Edinburgh and Manchester are important centres for the business community and also for leisure travellers, including people going there for our popular city breaks.

We operate up to 13 flights daily from Belfast to London, significantly more than any other airline, but demand is such that the extra morning and evening flights are essential.’

The company had previously announced that it would no longer maintain a base in Madrid, Spain, due to a lack of demand. The airline will be moving its aircraft to other bases in Europe, and will be reorganising its crewmembers based out of Madrid in a phased manner.

The airline is currently operating around 200 aircraft across 23 bases in the UK and mainland Europe.

Ryanair Partners with Tourism Ireland to Promote Tourism

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, is partnering with Tourism Ireland, at Dublin Airport, in Ireland.

In an initiative to help promote Irish tourism, the airline is welcoming Irish football fans who are en route to support their team at the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships in Poland, with over 2,000 giant green hands that are being given out to Ryanair passengers.

Around 20,000 Irish fans are flying with Ryanair to the Championships, which are being held in Poland and Ukraine throughout June.

Michael Cawley, the airline deputy chief executive, said, ‘Euro 2012 fever has well and truly gripped Ireland and Ryanair is delighted to bring thousands of Irish fans to Poland for the European Championships. Ryanair passengers will know all about ‘great saves’ with our guaranteed lowest fares and we hope Ireland can follow Ryanair’s success and become Europe’s number 1.’

The chief executive officer of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, said, ‘Visitors repeatedly tell us that what distinguishes Ireland from other destinations is the friendliness of the Irish people and the warm welcome that people receive when they come here. Ireland’s football fans always generate immense goodwill when they travel abroad to support their team – even going back as far as Italia ’90 when we saw how the fans became ambassadors for Ireland through their good humour, wit and friendliness. Euro 2012 is another excellent platform for us to remind fans from across Europe about what Ireland has to offer. Our ‘big green wave’ promotion with Ryanair is a great way for us to deliver the message that Ireland is a fun destination and that there has never been a better time to visit.’

Kippure Estate Outdoor Education Centre Offering Interactive Adventure

The Kippure Estate Outdoor Education Centre, an outdoor activities centre in Wicklow, Ireland, is offering on-site adventure activities for all age groups.

The company owns a 240-acre private estate set in green hills and a lush landscape, and is offering adventurous and entertaining learning experiences. The innovative school tours claim to offer memorable experiences to schoolchildren, in natural surroundings.

The Kippure Estate has been awarded the status of Primary Science Centre, and is offering on-site and outreach programmes.

The company is offering a range of group activities that include a High and Low Ropes Challenge Course for rope climbing enthusiasts; scaling wooden climbing towers; environmental, outdoor education and eco-adventures for schoolchildren; environmental field study and outdoor education experiences; trekking and guided mountain walks; map reading and orienteering sessions, and treasure hunts, all in keeping with the syllabus and curriculum requirements of the Department of Education, Ireland.

The centre is also offering corporate team building facilities for companies and organisations, with accommodation, which ranges from self-catering houses and bunk beds, to fully serviced bedrooms, as well as dining facilities, open air barbecues, and bars for the evenings. The team building exercises can be customised to suit all kinds of corporate requirements.

Some of the special activities available at the centre are Pirate and Celtic Warrior Training courses, archery at an outdoor archery range, sky trekking and a zip line.

Kippure Estate is located around 45 minutes from Dublin, and is close to the Blessington Lakes, Glendalough and other attractions in Wicklow.

Aer Lingus pilots vote for strike action

Aer Lingus passengers face mass cancellations this summer after a pilots vote approve industrial action.

Disruption of flights could start as early as next Tuesday, with travellers facing widespread uncertainty unless an agreement is reached between management and members of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (Ialpa).

Refusing to work on designated days off and turning up for work an hour late are two of the methods selected to cause disruption by almost 90% of pilots.

Aer Lingus stated that if the action does take place it may cause all flights from Dublin and Cork could be cancelled from June 7th, but it said that talks with the association – a branch of the Impact union – were continuing.

“This withdrawal of flexibility will destroy our ability to operate a proper schedule as we will miss our airport slot times, parking stands and gate positions and will be unable to fulfil flight connections for customers”, said Christophe Mueller, chief executive officer of Aer Lingus. “This may lead to a full cancellation of operations from Tuesday June 7.”

Being asked to work extra during peak hours and a general shortage of pilots have been the main reasons cited behind the action.

A spokesman for the association said that pilots at Aer Lingus agreed to a pay cut earlier this year, in exchange for assurances that they would not be asked to work for more than five consecutive days. It claims the airline has reneged on this agreement.

The airline says it has been in talks with pilots for some time in an attempt to develop new rosters.
Aer Lingus recently began making cuts, including staff redundancies and a reduction of its long-haul capacity, in an effort to save £85 million. Cabin crew responded by striking in January, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights.

Earlier this month the airline announced operating losses of £47 million for the first three months of 2011.