Max Kingsley Jones/LONDON

Expanding Irish regional airline Aer Arann Express is consolidating its position at Dublin airport as the third largest operator, by introducing three ATR 42s.


Aer Arann Express began operations on regional services throughout Ireland in 1998 with a Shorts 360, operating "public service obligation" routes from Dublin awarded by the Irish Government. A spin-off from established west of Ireland-based BN Islander operator Aer Arann, the regional airline has expanded its network with annual traffic growing from 9,000 passengers two years ago to 300,000 now.

"We started operations flying from Dublin to Donegal and the Isle of Man, and we now operate to [Irish destinations] Sligo, Knock, Galway, Kerry, and Cork, as well as to Sheffield in the UK," says the airline's founder and managing director Padraig O'Ceidigh. "By the summer we will be operating 20 daily departures from Dublin, making us the third largest operator at the airport after Aer Lingus and Ryanair," he adds.

Three 360s are in operation, and two 50-seat second-hand ATR 42-300s have just been delivered, leased through Magellan Air, with a third arriving this month. "These will be deployed on the Galway, Kerry and Cork services," says O'Ceidigh, "We plan to add a fourth ATR 42 within two years, and are looking to move up to the larger ATR 72 in the longer term."

Aer Arann Express operates night-time cargo flights, but will remain focused on passenger services. "We are studying the introduction of more services to UK regional airports," says O'Ceidigh, adding that the airline could also benefit from any move by Aer Lingus to withdraw from the few remaining Irish regional routes that it operates with turboprops. He adds that he has an "open mind" to franchise operations.

Source: Flight International