Aer Lingus adds London City and helps CityJet conclude transition from scheduled carrier to capacity provider

Aer Lingus has strengthened its position in one of Europe’s largest city pairs after agreeing terms with fellow Irish carrier CityJet to introduce its brand on the latter’s Dublin – London City route. The expansion will see Aer Lingus operations between Dublin and London increase to up to 50 daily flights from 28-Oct-2018, while CityJet will complete its transition from scheduled operator to a pure capacity provider for some of Europe’s biggest brands.


Summary:

  • Aer Lingus is to add London City to its London airport network as part of a leasing and flying partnership with fellow Irish carrier CityJet;
  • Aer Lingus will offer the carrier’s up to six daily flights between Dublin and London City using two Avro RJ85 aircraft flown on an ACMI basis by CityJet;
  • The Dublin – London market is the busiest international city pair in Europe; this summer and seat capacity has grown by just under a third (+30.3%) since 2010;
  • Agreement marks completion of CityJet transition from scheduled operator to a pure capacity provider for other airlines.

The agreement will see CityJet’s current up to six time daily (weekday, with reduced weekend frequency) link between Dublin and London City transferred across to Aer Lingus from the start of the winter schedules in Oct-2018.  The Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) leasing arrangement between the two airlines will see CityJet provide two Avro RJ85 aircraft to Aer Lingus for the purpose of operating the Dublin-London City route.

While the aircraft and crews will remain the same, the jets will be painted in Aer Lingus livery and the flights will operate under the ‘EI’ code rather than CityJet’s ‘WX’ code. This will provide new connection opportunities in Dublin to the wider Aer Lingus network, including its growing trans-Atlantic network.

Aer Lingus already links its Dublin hub to both London Heathrow and Gatwick airports and operates alongside its fellow International Airlines Group (IAG) member British Airways (BA), competing with among others Ryanair and its low fare model. Its new London City operation will see it also operate directly alongside BA CityFlyer, BA’s London City-based operation, mainly flown using Embraer E-Jet equipment. IAG officials say it will ‘complement’ rather than compete with its sister operation and will strengthen IAG’s market position in the busy Dublin – London market.

The Dublin – London market is the busiest international city pair in Europe and this summer only the Turkish domestic market between Istanbul and Izmir actually sees more capacity. The Blue Swan Daily analysis of OAG data shows that system seat capacity in the Dublin – London market is up +2.8% this summer and has grown by just under a third (+30.3%) since the start of the decade.

CHART – Looking back over seven years, the growth in capacity between London and Dublin is clearly evidentSource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

This summer – for the first time since 2014 – Dublin is linked commercially to six London airports. Capacity is dominated by Heathrow from the London side, with London City accounting for just 5.1% of the departure seats. Ryanair is currently the largest operator in the Dublin- London market with a 38.3% share of departure seats, just ahead of Aer Lingus with a 34.7% share. However, when you add CityJet’s current independent operation that share would rise to 41%, increasing to 58.2% when you consider it from an IAG perspective and include BA’s flights.

For CityJet the deal marks an emotional end to scheduled flying – Dublin – London City was its first and last route, a market it has served since the early 1990s. CityJet was actually one of the first airlines to launch services to London City Airport in 1994 having recognised the convenience and strategic importance of the airport located on the doorstep of London’s financial district.

As Pat Byrne, CEO, CityJet, has highlighted during his regular attendance at CAPA – Centre for Aviation events, the airline has been in the process of transitioning from an airline serving scheduled markets under its own brand into becoming a provider of capacity to customer airlines throughout Europe. It now has a fleet of 45 aircraft flying on over 200 routes across Europe from crew bases in Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, London, Paris, Stockholm, Tallinn and Vilnius.

Earlier this summer, CityJet and Spain’s Air Nostrum signed a Heads of Terms with the aim to bring about closer co-operation between the two airlines under the umbrella of a new holding company and in the process, subject to regulatory approval, creating the largest pan-European regional airline group.