Aer Arann expects to make a full-year profit.
All of the Irish regional carrier's "key parameters" are "showing positive movement", said chief executive Seán Brogan, speaking at the European Regions Airline Association’s 2013 general assembly in Salzburg, Austria.
Referring to the turnaround undertaken since Aer Arann was forced to restructure under court protection in autumn 2010, he says: "Two years ago, we found ourselves in a very difficult position. We’ve managed to come out of that and in two years we’ve restructured the business."
Brogan adds that "it’s all good news at the moment" for Dublin-based Aer Arann, citing 50 new jobs created earlier this year.
"We’re going to carry something in the region of 1.2 million passengers, which is a record number for us. August was a record number in terms of passengers too," he says.
Brogan says that Aer Arann’s "load factors are up seven or eight points, which is significant in the regional market", and attributes much of this improvement to "the hub and spoke model that Dublin offers the UK passenger travelling to the USA".
In late 2010, the airline moved its services to Dublin airport’s Terminal 2 to facilitate connections to Aer Lingus's transatlantic services. Aer Arann operates flights for the Irish flag carrier from Ireland to the UK and France under the brand of Aer Lingus Regional. "We can open the USA market to cities in the UK we serve that aren’t directly served themselves," says Brogan. "We’re going to carry 100,000 passengers this year who are going to fly into Dublin on our services and then through-ticket with Aer Lingus on to the USA."
To facilitate this strategy, he says, Aer Arann has added frequencies between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham to Dublin: "We announced a few weeks ago a new service from Dublin to Newcastle, a city we believe has been very underserved in the last few years. All the early signs are very positive and, again, there’s transatlantic connectivity on that. There’s transatlantic connectivity and frequency from Aberdeen too." On Aer Arann’s services from London Southend airport, there are "very high numbers of repeat customers", he adds.
The airline is halfway through a fleet renewal programme, having already received four new ATR 72-600 turboprops. It expects to receive another four by March 2014.