Dublin Airport gain passengers that avoid Heathrow
Dublin Airport is mopping up business from passengers in Scotland and the north of England who want to avoid flying via Heathrow and other congested European hub airports to the US, according to Aer Lingus.
The airline said transfer passengers from the UK and other parts of Europe now make up almost a third of its long-haul traffic to North America.
Dublin is also now ranked 7th in Europe as a hub for transatlantic passengers ahead of much bigger airports such as Istanbul, Brussels and Gatwick, Aer Lingus said.
Dublin offers 134 direct return flights a week to North America. Only the biggest European hubs, Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid and Rome, currently offer more frequent services, Aer Lingus pointed out.
Christoph Mueller, Aer Lingus' outgoing chief executive, said it has been "very quietly" building a solid position in the market as a low cost transatlantic airline, offering routes to cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York and Toronto.
Passengers who fly to America via Dublin Airport's Terminal 2 can go through all US immigration and customs inspections before they take-off, avoiding potentially lengthy queues at the other end.
Aer Lingus, which is 29.8pc owned by rival Ryanair, on Wednesday revised up its forecasts for the full-year just over a month after it issued a profits warning.
The airline said in June that it expected full-year profit before interest and tax to be as much as 20pc lower than the €61.1m (£48.4m) achieved last year, due to industrial action by cabin crew.
However it painted a far more positive picture on Wednesday, saying it now expects full-year operating profit to be "at least in line" with the 2013 figure after it successfully managed to mitigate some of the effects of the industrial action.
"We have recovered very strongly from the industrial action," said Mr Mueller who will step down in May.
Ryanair is battling to keep hold of its near-30pc stake in Aer Lingus, which it has been ordered by UK competition authorities to sell down to 5pc.
But Mr Mueller said he expects the stake will likely have to be sold in the next 12 months, followed shortly after by the Government's 25pc holding in Aer Lingus.
Aer Lingus' brokers remain confident that both holdings could be placed and sold in the market in just 24 hours, Mr Mueller said. (Telegraph)