NEW Irish regional carrier Emerald Airlines is challenging Stobart Air for the Aer Lingus Regional franchise, which expires in late 2022, according to the website Anna Aero.
Currently, Aer Lingus Regional maintains routes from Ireland across the UK, and sees the regional services as crucial at feeding passengers from Britain and Europe to its transatlantic flights at Dublin Airport.
Emerald Airlines was set up by Conor McCarthy, former CEO of Aer Lingus Commuter.
He is co-founder of AirAsia, MD of PlaneConsult, Executive Chairman (and largest shareholder) of Dublin Aerospace, and – until late 2019, Non-Executive Chairman of Stobart Air.
Aer Arann, which later became Stobart Air, has held the contract for Aer Lingus Regional since 2010.
Ninety per cent of the routes are Ireland-UK, with four non-UK services: Dublin to Donegal and Kerry, and Dublin and Cork to Rennes in France.
According to Anna Aero, Aer Lingus Regional’s network had 1.86 million seats in 2019 – broadly flat since 2016.
With over seven in ten seats, Dublin was by far the regional airline’s top airport.
Cork, meanwhile, was second with just under one-quarter.