Aer Lingus has become the latest airline to introduce charges to check-in baggage on its short-haul routes.

A fee of €4 per bag will apply if booked in advance on the Aer Lingus website, with an €8 per bag charge applying at the airport.

The charges will come into effect on short-haul routes for bookings made after 8 August for travel after 17 January 2007.

The airline says it will continue to allow short-haul passengers 20kg for checked-in baggage, with a new allowance of 36kg for passengers on long-haul routes. Charges for excess baggage will remain at €8 per kg for luggage above these amounts.

Earlier this year, Ryanair introduced similar luggage charges, with fees of €3.50 per bag per flight if booked online or €7 per bag at the airport.

Aer Lingus is also introducing an online check-in facility from early December which will allow passengers to check in up to 24 hours before their scheduled flight.

The move is aimed at speeding up passenger movement through the airports. Passengers will also be able to select their seats online.

Aer Lingus Commercial Director Enda Corneille said baggage charges were becoming standard in the short-haul market.

'We also believe that our baggage policy will enable the airline to save costs as a result of lower handling fees at airports, the impact of which will ultimately be passed on to the passenger in the form of lower fares,' Mr Corneille said.