A Fianna Fáil TD has said it could be time for Shannon Airport to penalise Aer Lingus for cancelling flights after the airline failed to operate its Shannon to New York service for the third time in a month.
Aer Lingus cancelled their EI-111 Shannon to New York services, as well as the EI-110 return legs, twice in August and again on Saturday.
In two cases, the services were cancelled so the aircraft could be redeployed to Dublin to operate services from there.
As a result of the cancellations, passengers were either accommodated in hotels overnight or rebooked on other flights including those operated by Aer Lingus partner airlines. Passengers were also flown from Shannon to London to catch connecting services from there or transported by bus to Dublin to fly onto New York via London.
The latest cancellations occurred on Saturday when the airline pulled its Shannon to New York EI-111 service. The knock-on effect of this was that the return EI-110 flight had to be cancelled also. The airline said the outbound flight was cancelled to to ‘crew illness’ although no further details have been made available.
The aircraft due to fly the scheduled service was then sent to Dublin to operate a service to Windsor Locks, Connecticut in the US.
An airline spokeswoman said: “Aer Lingus flight EI-111 Shannon – New York JFK was cancelled on Saturday 1 September due to crew illness. Guests have been re-accommodated on other Aer Lingus direct North American services and via London Heathrow travelling with our partner airlines.”
The airline added that “some, but very few” passengers were accommodated in hotels over night.
“Due to limited availability out of Shannon most either opted to travel on other transatlantic services from Dublin or were re-accommodated via Heathrow. We apologise to our guests for the inconvenience caused,” the spokeswoman added.
Last month, the same flights were also cancelled. The airline said at the time the the EI-111 (August 14th) and EI-110 (15th) were cancelled “due to operational reasons”. The aircraft due to fly the services on those days, was sent to Dublin to operate on another route.
The same two flights were also cancelled a week earlier “due to technical issues.”
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said: “It’s disappointing that Aer Lingus continues to undermine its services at Shannon by using Shannon based aircraft as a back up for break downs else-where. Cancelling services, and moving aircraft from Shannon to Dublin, does nothing but damage the reputation of the airport, and reduce people’s confidence in the services being offered at Shannon. This cannot happen again.”
“Every flight and every passenger is crucial to Shannon Airport. Aer Lingus need to commit to Shannon. Perhaps it’s time for management at Shannon to penalise the airline, through the imposition of monetary fines, for this kind of behaviour,” Deputy Dooley added.
In 2016, the airline cancelled a total of 20 flights on their transatlantic and London Heathrow routes because of a lack if aircraft.