Aer Lingus axes three US routes to stem long-haul losses

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Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus is suspending transatlantic services to three US cities for the winter as part of a 25% capacity cut in its long-haul operations.

The airline is to suspend its Dublin-Washington, Dublin-San Francisco and Shannon-Chicago routes for the winter, and there is no decision on whether to restore them next summer.

Aer Lingus has also put its Shannon-New York services "under close review".

The airline has been scrutinising its long-haul operations to the USA after warning that they were not performing satisfactorily in the "rapidly deteriorating" economic environment.

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Long-haul average fares were down by nearly 20% in the first quarter and Aer Lingus says that its yields have been declining in the poor market.

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington says: "These changes to our schedule are absolutely necessary given the unprecedented operating environment and legacy practices in our long-haul business which are no longer sustainable."

The airline adds: "It is clear that the significant divergence in returns that exists between winter and summer is growing.

"Some routes are marginally profitable over the year as a whole, while many others suffer significant losses in the winter months which, in turn, eliminates any profit generated over the peak summer months."

It points out, however, that connections on the affected routes are still available through its US partners, Star Alliance carrier United Airlines and budget carrier JetBlue Airways.

Aer Lingus will maintain daily service on the Dublin-Chicago and Dublin-Boston routes, while Dublin-New York will be served twice-daily. Shannon-Boston will be operated four times per week while Dublin-Orlando will be thrice-weekly.