Aer Lingus introduce new smaller and more economical commuter aircraft.
Increasing costs and falling passenger numbers have made some Aer Lingus cross channel routes economically non-viable for jet aircraft.
Aer Lingus is attempting to address this through the use of smaller commuter aircraft. The airline firstly leased a Shorts 330 aircraft and then decided to buy the Shorts 360.
Commuter operations began in April using the leased 330 which is still in use. Three 360 aircraft have since been bought with another due for delivery in November. This is a large investment for Aer Lingus costing around £10 million sterling. The aim is to retain routes and keep competitors off them and to protect the trunk routes between major airports.
The commuter service is operating under a new subsidiary company of Aer Lingus with its own pilots and cabin crew with maintenance and baggage handling carried out by the parent company.
Chief Executive Officer of Aer Lingus Commuter Evian Murphy says that,
With a separate company we could keep our costs down by concentrating our efforts on this company.
To date, the service is achieving what it set out to achieve. Aer Lingus needs to fill twelve of the thirty six seats on each commuter flight in order to break even and on average, the figures are higher than twelve.
The new commuter operation is almost a return to the early days of Aer Lingus. Pilots and hostesses are on first name terms with many passengers.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 23 August 1984. The reporter is Andrew Kelly.