The ‘ungreening’ of Aer Lingus

Ed Forry

It soon might not be quite as easy to spot the daily Aer Lingus flights from Ireland as they approach Logan Airport. That’s because the airline has commissioned a new design for its aircraft, and for Eire-philes like myself, used to looking skyward to spot the green-bellied planes flying over the neighborhood, the new look will take some getting used to.

The carrier unveiled its new “aircraft livery” last month, unveiling the prototype in a hangar at Dublin Airport. Published online reports about the new strategy reveals some interesting details about Aer Lingus’s plans going forward.

According to a report in Forbes Magazine, “There’s less green and a slight tilt to the shamrock. And a sense of confidence. Overseen by the brand agency Lippincott, … the undercarriage is teal, with a few flashes of a lighter green. The main body of the aircraft is white after market research showed that people associated the green-dominant one of a predecessor with a primarily local network.”

The redesign is said to be all part of a new Aer Lingus strategy as it expands its market and adds new flights to more American cities. Chief Operating Officer Mike Rutter said the new branding was designed to reflect modern Irish society, which is “open, progressive, liberal, outward-looking, and dynamic,” according to a report by the non-profit trade group APEX. “Regarding its strategy, Aer Lingus’s new CEO, Sean Doyle, who replaced Stephen Kavanagh in January 2019, highlighted that under Aer Lingus’s new business model, the airline hopes to see 50 percent of its passengers connecting through Dublin to North America, ‘making Aer Lingus less susceptible to economic fluctuations.’

“Doyle noted that Aer Lingus has been on a journey of transformation over the last five years, expanding its route network to include Los Angeles, Newark, Hartford, Miami, Philadelphia, and Seattle, with flights to both Montreal and Minneapolis scheduled to enter service in 2019.”

The report continues, “These changes were made possible by the introduction of new aircraft, including the A330-300, two more of which are due to be delivered to Aer Lingus in 2020. The airline is also set to benefit from the introduction of the A321LR. Doyle confirmed that it plans to grow its long-haul fleet from 17 aircraft today to 30 in 2023, but that the A321LR will also be used on short-haul European flights.

“For, above all, Aer Lingus is repositioning itself as a budget carrier across the Atlantic. While travelers in the southeast of England have plenty of choice of carriers to the US and Canada, it makes a great deal of sense to use Aer Lingus if you are travelling from farther north or Scotland. And it’s worth noting that the price in economy includes one piece of checked-in luggage and meals.

“The airline is expanding steadily. Above all, it is increasing its North Atlantic fleet with 16 A330s and 14 A321 long-range aircraft. This summer, there will be new flights from Dublin to Minneapolis and Montreal. There’s a rollout of wifi on the A330s, the aircraft’s business class have flatbeds, seat pitch of 58 inches and lounge access, but overall, a more affordable price tag. ‘We’re not trying to be a five-star Emirates-style airline; neither are we trying to be in the two- to three-star category, like Ryanair,’ says Rutter.”

Aer Lingus is owned by International Airline Group (IAG,) a holding company that also owns British Airways and Iberia. IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, is a Dublin-born pilot and a former Aer Lingus executive.

The Irish Times reported last month that Aer Lingus is the most profitable carrier in the IAG group. “Willie Walsh, chief executive of Aer Lingus’s parent, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), said the company had done a ‘great job’ staving off competition
from Ryanair.” Walsh...warned that some airlines could fail this year. ‘We’ll see some of these airlines disappear,’ he said, referring to turbulence that had hit the sector in recent months.”