Aer Lingus is still to decide what to do with the aircraft freed up by Virgin's axing of its Little Red domestic operation, but is not considering taking on the routes in its own right.

Since March 2013, the Irish carrier has been operating four Airbus A320s for Virgin Atlantic's Little Red feeder services linking London Heathrow with Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester. But last month, Virgin disclosed its decision to pull the plug on the loss-making services. Manchester flights will end in March and the Scottish links in September.

Aer Lingus says exit costs are largely mitigated through the contractual arrangement and that it is in the process of "reassessing the deployment of of aircraft assets" including those used on Little Red services.

Asked by Flightglobal if the airline is thinking of flying the routes itself, Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller says: "That is not currently under consideration.

"We had a very elaborate contract with Virgin, so the termination of that service next year in September is provided for. But it gives us some flexibility in our own fleet position because we have four aircraft that would normally be returned, and we are currently considering whether we have market opportunities we can use this capacity for."

Aer Lingus originally leased a pair of A320s and redeployed other Airbus narrowbodies from its short-haul fleet to operate the Little Red flights.

Source: Cirium Dashboard