28/10/2008

Aer Lingus Expansion Takes Off

Former national flag-carrier Aer Lingus has upped the ante in the highly competitive airline industry by announcing that it will operate nine new routes from Ireland next summer.

The new routes from Cork will be to Lanzarote, Lisbon & Rennes, while there will be extra services from its new Belfast hub to Milan, Munich and Lanzarote in the popular Spanish holiday resort in the Canaries.

Less than a week after the company's website crashed under demand for a huge 'no fare' seat sale, the airline revealed the news that it will fly three new routes each from Dublin, Cork and Belfast.

Aer Lingus will also increase the frequency of flights on 17 of its existing routes, and will operate more year-round routes and will now be servicing a Dublin to Catania (Sicily) route as well as new destinations in Sofia and closer to home, in Newcastle.

Last Wednesday, the Aer Lingus website crashed for more than two hours following a surge in booking activity from bargain hunters responding to the airline's first 'no fare' offer.
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In a marketing ploy used by the likes of Ryanair, the airline started a four-day seat sale offering 'free' flights, to the UK and the rest of Europe.

They were free fares, but complicated by the addition of taxes and other charges, which still had to be paid.

The deal covered flights taken between November 4th and December 18th, and January 12th and February 12th next year.

The airline also reduced fares on its North American routes as well at the same time as the 15 destinations from Dublin and five from Cork were offered 'free'.

Meanwhile, Ryanair is getting ready to cut its passenger numbers through Shannon Airport.

The radical move will see passenger numbers fall from two million to a mere 750,000.

Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, said the cuts were brought on by the €10 departure tax announced in the recent Irish Budget, and predicted it would "doom" the mid-west airport.

He said while Ryanair was to account for 60% of Shannon's traffic this year, next year it would cut the number of aircraft based there from four to one, with the loss of 100 Ryanair jobs.

(BMcC)

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