Aer Lingus’ decision to hire a larger aircraft and crew to service it’s Shannon to Boston route for the summer months continues to anger local public representatives in Clare.
The airline has procured a Boeing 767 jet, along with flight and cabin crews, from U.S. based Omni Air International to operate the route for the next 12 weeks.
Aer Lingus has been using a smaller Boeing 757 leased from Dublin based Air Contractors Ltd while the cabin was crewed by Aer Lingus staff.
Late last year, Clare County Council called on the airline to reverse it’s decision with members of the authority backing a motion from Fianna Fail councillor Pat McMahon for the Shannon based crew to be deployed on the replacement aircraft.
Aer Lingus rejected the calls saying: “It would not be viable to operate this aircraft over such a limited period using Aer Lingus crew for a number of reasons. We don’t have the required license or equipment to train cabin crew on this type of aircraft. In addition, this aircraft is not registered in Europe and therefore our crew are not licensed to fly it.”
“Our Shannon based cabin crew will be fully occupied flying our other routes as it is our peak summer season and we don’t have any spare capacity to operate this additional aircraft,” the carrier added.
The plane, which arrived in Shannon from Boston early yesterday (Monday), remains in it’s Omni Air International livery with some Aer Lingus and Wild Atlantic Way logos.
Cllr Pat McMahon said: “Aer Lingus has provided a very comprehensive explanation for this wet lease arrangement however I still don’t accept it.”
“A few shamrocks stuck on another plane is only symbolic, it’s still not what passengers are used to or expect. When someone books a flight with Aer Lingus they expect to see a plane with the distinctive company colours and they want to be met by Aer Lingus crew,” Cllr McMahon said.
“It’s all part of the Aer Lingus experience to be able to speak to airline staff who know all about Ireland and can talk to you about it. With a US based cabin crew it’s not likely to be the case. Aer Lingus didn’t think this true,” he added.
The provision of the larger aircraft on the route for the summer months will provide an 18% increase in capacity, the equivalent of 6,000 seats, over the same period in 2014.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has also confirmed that the Boeing 757 that had operated the Shannon to Boston route has been temporarily redeployed to Dublin to fly the new early morning New York service, flight number EI-103.
That inaugural flight, with 166 passengers on board, took off yesterday (Monday) morning from Dublin at 7.50am. The flight will allow business customers complete a days work in New York and fly home that night.
“The addition of the service will provide an extra 25,000 seats for the three month peak summer period (adding 22% capacity) and increasing the Dublin to JFK service to three times daily for the Summer, in conjunction with the six times weekly Shannon to JFK service,” Aer Lingus confirmed.