Aer Lingus starts pricing smaller craft for route rejig
Published 07/09/2010 | 05:00
Aer Lingus has initiated preliminary contact with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer and Canada's Bombardier to determine the pricing of smaller aircraft that the airline might consider using on European routes with demand levels that don't justify larger aircraft.
An Aer Lingus spokesman confirmed contact had been made with the manufacturers, as well as existing supplier Airbus, to sound out pricing for smaller capacity aircraft than the airline currently has in its fleet.
Chief executive Christoph Mueller is also believed to have told staff recently that Aer Lingus is considering the Embraer and Bombardier C series jets as an alternative to some of its existing Airbus aircraft.
The Embraer E195 jet can carry 122 passengers, while the Bombardier C series typically carries 110 or 130.
Both jets would have smaller capacity than the smallest Airbus aircraft currently in use by Aer Lingus, which is the A320.
The airline has 30 of these short-haul aircraft, each configured to carry 174 economy-seat passengers. It also has six A321s on its books, each configured to carry 212 passengers.
Aer Lingus could also opt for the Airbus A319, which can be configured to carry 134 economy-class passengers.
The Embraer E195 has a list price of more than $42m (€32.6m), the Bombardier C series varies between $55m and $63m (€42.6m and €49m), while the A319 has a list price of $74.4m (€57.7m).
Aer Lingus is due to take delivery of four A320 aircraft next year, which will almost certainly be used to replace existing aircraft in its fleet.
Mr Mueller has made no secret of the fact that it's uneconomical for Aer Lingus to serve some destinations where existing aircraft are too big relative to demand.
Smaller jets such as the Embraer E195 or the Bombardier C series could enable Aer Lingus to economically serve destinations such as Geneva, for example, on a more than once-daily basis.
Aer Lingus has been cutting capacity on a number of routes over the past year as demand for air travel dropped during the downturn.
Mr Mueller said recently that the airline would no longer sell tickets for flights "at any price" simply to fill aircraft. Instead, he was focusing on improving yields at the airline.
Any decision to buy and begin using aircraft from Embraer or Bombardier would require a long lead-in time. Pilots and crew would need to be trained to operate the aircraft, while infrastructure would also have to be established to deal with repairs and servicing.