Veteran aviation executives join board of Conor McCarthy’s Emerald Airlines

Emerald Airlines CEO Conor McCarthy. Photo: Fran Veale

John Mulligan

A trio of investors in Conor McCarthy’s Emerald Airlines startup have joined the carrier’s board.

Emerald will operate the Aer Lingus Regional service from the end of February.

Among those joining the board are John Higgins, the former chief commercial officer of jet leasing giant Avolon. He invested €2m in Emerald Airlines last year, buying €500,000 in ordinary shares and €1.5m in redeemable preference shares.

Former Airbus executive Christopher Buckley has also joined the Emerald board. He invested €400,000 in the company.

The chief commercial officer at Dublin-based aircraft lessor AMCK, Jane O’Callaghan, is also joining the board of Emerald Airlines. She has invested €100,000 in the airline. In December, investment giant Carlyle agreed to buy AMCK and its 125 jets as well as an order book for 20 aircraft.

The new board members will help the company and leadership team in setting strategy, agreeing budgets and providing oversight of its results.

“Their decades of experience in dealing with airlines all over the world, including many of today’s most successful airlines, combined with their extensive knowledge and contacts within the aviation industry, puts us in an extremely strong position when it comes to strategy-setting and maintaining a strong culture of governance at the airline,” said Mr McCarthy, who is chief executive of Emerald.

Last summer, Emerald Airlines finalised a 10-year agreement to operate the Aer Lingus Regional service on a franchise basis.

That contract was originally due to start next year. However, Aer Lingus has accelerated the rollout of the Aer Lingus Regional operation, which was grounded last June after its previous operator, Stobart Air, went bust.

Emerald will now relaunch the Aer Lingus Regional service on February 26, operating 360 flights a week over 12 routes. It will announce additional routes in the coming weeks.

Last month, Emerald was also named as the new operator of the public service obligation route between Dublin and Donegal. It will also start that service contract on February 26.

Mr McCarthy is also the founder of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul firm Dublin Aerospace. It was expanded significantly in the past couple of years.