Irish regional carrier Aer Arann is to operate 12 routes on behalf of flag-carrier Aer Lingus under a franchise partnership agreed between the two airlines.

Aer Arann will operate as 'Aer Lingus Regional' on services from two cities in Ireland.

It will perform flights from Dublin to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Blackpool, Doncaster-Sheffield and Durham Tees Valley.

Aer Arann will also operate flights from Cork to Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, La Rochelle and Jersey.

The regional carrier, which uses a fleet of ATR 72s, will take commercial and operational responsibility for the services, and pay Aer Lingus a franchise fee.

Aer Lingus, which admitted earlier this month that it was exploring a franchise tie-up with the smaller carrier, says the pact will "significantly increase" its presence in the Irish-UK market.

"It allows us to serve key regional destinations, linking them with our Dublin transatlantic network, as well as offering our business and leisure customers improved schedule and frequency options," says Aer Lingus chief Christoph Mueller.

The flag-carrier already serves Dublin-Glasgow and Dublin-Edinburgh, and the partnership will provide additional capacity on the routes, while Aer Arann's Cork-Glasgow route will be a new addition.

Aer Arann ATR
 © Aer Arann

"The combined strengths of both airlines - including brand power and market presence - will allow us to offer a quality customer product that meets the capacity requirements of existing and new routes," says Aer Arann chief Paul Schutz.

Links with Aer Arann are intended to reinforce Aer Lingus at a time when the loss-making carrier's operations have appeared increasingly vulnerable, and marks a partial consolidation in the Irish market against the domination of Ryanair.

Aer Lingus remains unallied to the major airline groups following its departure from the Oneworld alliance three years ago, although it has been forming bilateral relationships with carriers including United Airlines and JetBlue Airways, which both have ties to Star Alliance.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news