[caption id="attachment_71829" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Timmy Dooley. "][/caption]
Aer Lingus could successfully operate all-year-round daily flights to the U.S. from Shannon if it used smaller, more efficient aircraft, it has been claimed.
The airline, according to reports, has been called upon to re-evaluate its operation at Shannon Airport, where for the past three winters it has ceased operations on its north Atlantic routes.
Aer Lingus has claimed that the Shannon to New York and Boston routes are not viable in winter.
But Shannon advocates have pointed out that United Airlines maintains a year-round operation between Shannon and Newark, while Delta Airlines operates a daily service to New York's JFK from May to October.
The Irish Times reported that Fianna Fáil transport spokesman, Timmy Dooley, has asserted that the aircraft Aer Lingus operates on U.S. routes from Shannon Airbus A330s) are too big.
The two U.S. carriers, he pointed out, operate single-aisle narrow-bodied Boeing 757s, which carry no more than 180 passengers, while Aer Lingus flies the twin-aisle Airbus A330, which can carry between 272 and 325 passengers.
"The A330 is too big and this is why I believe they haven't been able to make the route viable and can't operate it all year," Dooley said.
Earlier this year, the website, flightglobal.com, did report that Aer Lingus is "very keen to see" whether the Airbus A321neo or Boeing 737-9 Max will offer the range needed to enable it to deploy the aircraft on some of its transatlantic services.
If so, the online airline industry magazine stated that the Irish carrier "could order up to five re-engined narrow bodies to serve the USA's east coast as part of a larger short-haul fleet renewal program."
In an interview with Flightglobal, Aer Lingus chief commercial officer Stephen Kavanagh said at the time the carrier was looking at the Neo and Max families and "part of that evaluation will be whether the A321neo or the 737-9 Max would have transatlantic capability."
If the aircraft do offer sufficient range, Aer Lingus could order "up to five" re-engined narrow bodies to "complement" its wide body flights from Belfast, Cork and Shannon to Boston, Chicago and New York by offering additional frequencies, said Kavanagh.
"The geographical location of Ireland on the edge of Europe is advantageous and it should be in range. We're very interested in exploring this option to complement our wide body operations," he said.
He added that any potential order would not affect Aer Lingus's existing order for nine Airbus A350s.
The report stated that Aer Lingus's evaluation of the Neo and Max families was also focused on eventually replacing its short-haul fleet of 36 A320s, said Kavanagh in the interview and in reference to a plane that is the Airbus equivalent of the Boeing 737.
"Within 12 months we will complete our evaluations and enter negotiations with the manufacturers," Kavanagh told Flightglobal.