New Lounge in Dublin T1

Following the closure of the BMI lounge in T1 at Dublin, the DAA are reporting that they are opening a new temporary lounge while the old BMI lounge is being redeveloped  The lounge is the old Gold Circle Lounge in the 300s gates which makes a lot of sense as that where the majority of its users would be departing from on British Airways, Lufthansa and others.

Passenger lounge in Terminal 1

The spacious new facility will temporarily replace the existing T1 lounge spaces, which are closing for major redevelopment. The temporary lounge is situated in the upper pavilion of the 300 Gates area – formerly known as Pier B – and can be accessed by lift or stairs adjacent to the Gate Clock Bar and Wrights of Howth.

The existing BMI lounge in Terminal 1 will close from today. Work is scheduled to begin in January on a major redesign of the terminal’s lounge facilities.

The new temporary lounge is located in the former Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge at Pier B. It will be used by business class and other qualifying passengers flying with British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss and Turkish Airlines, all of whom depart from the 300 Gates. Lounge access can also be purchased by passengers of all airlines regardless of ticket type.

DAA’s head of Executive Lounges and VIP, Loreto O’Byrne said it had been necessary to create an alternative lounge space while the upgrade works are being carried out. “Although this is a temporary lounge, it’s a beautiful space here and we turned it around in just four weeks.”

The new permanent lounge space, which will open next year, will cover 414 square metres and will have in excess of 120 seats. It will also have a family area and a specific outdoor area will also be set aside for smokers. It is expected that the new refurbished and upgraded T1 lounge will be in operation by the end of next March.

The use of  DAA lounges at Dublin Airport has increased significantly this year, according to O’Byrne. T1 lounge use is almost three times higher than the previous year, while business in T2 has doubled.

Passenger lounge in Terminal 1

 

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Shannon Airport to leave the DAA

The government has announced that Shannon Airport is to be separated from the Dublin Airport Authority.

The announcement was made as details of the plan for the new entity were unveiled.   The five year plan is based around sustainable passenger growth to 2.5million passengers within five years and the development of the International Aviation Services Center at Shannon (IASC).  The plan, which has been robustly tested and validated by KPMG on behalf of the Department of Transport, anticipates the creation of up to 3,000 jobs within a three to five year period across a cluster of diverse international, primarily aviation, related business centered on the airport and building on the existing cluster of 40 aviation related companies working at Shannon.

Welcoming the announcement today, Ms Hynes confirmed that, pending separation, 1,000 of those posts have already been committed by two existing Shannon based companies, one of which involves 800 plus jobs within three years.  “This is the beginning of a new era for Shannon Airport.   December 31st 2012 has now been set as the date for the separation of Shannon. This will be followed by the second phase of the process, the merging of the Airport with activities of a restructured Shannon Development.  “The immediate focus of the separated Shannon Airport will be the growth of passenger numbers but the future for Shannon will also involve the development of innovative new business streams, with strong job creation potential.  “We have spent the past five months working towards separation.  The process has involved discussions, many of which are at an advanced stage, with airline partners and industry, both of which are committed to investing in Shannon pending separation.  We now look forward to advancing these solid commitments and creating a sustainable future for the benefit of Shannon Airport, its staff, customers and the region.”

Commenting on the cabinet decision, Shannon Airport Director Mary Considine said: “Today is a pivotal step in the process of separation.  The focus of staff and management at Shannon Airport has been on ensuring that the airport is financially and operationally ready for separation.  We will continue to build on the momentum of recent gains in passenger services whilst growing a range of commercial opportunities.  “This entire process is all about securing a sustainable future for all the stakeholders of the Airport and that Shannon Airport delivers on its role as a key economic driver for the West of Ireland.”

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Delta to add to Shannon’s US Long Haul

Shannon has been getting some good news of late, first with US Airways announcing a new route and now Delta saying they will add to that with a seasonal service to New Yorks JFK.

The flight will operate daily throughout the peak summer season using a B757-200 aircraft with 170 seats, in conjunction with Delta’s joint venture partner Air France KLM. The flight adds 2,300 seats per week to and from the United States and is the latest in a number of significant announcements regarding Shannon’s transatlantic services for summer 2013 over recent weeks.

“Shannon has long been a favourite destination for US holidaymakers and it makes sense to operate our service when customers most want to visit – during the summer months,” said Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa.“Operating routes on a seasonal basis is a proactive and successful measure we have taken to protect our revenues by matching capacity to demand. We look forward to flying thousands of US tourists to the west coast of Ireland next summer, boosting the local economy.”  Delta’s flight from Shannon features 15 seats in BusinessElite. The aircraft is equipped with Economy Comfort, Delta’s premium economy cabin product. Customers flying in Economy Comfort benefit from up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard Economy Class seat, as well as priority boarding.  “Other product initiatives being rolled out across Delta’s international fleet include the expansion of wi-fi service from 2013. The introduction of wi-fi on Delta-operated flights between Ireland and the USA will enable customers to get online throughout their journey. Delta will also open their new state-of-the-art facility at Terminal 4 at New York JFK in May 2013, facilitating improved connections on to over 55 destinations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Declan Power, Shannon Airport Senior Manager-Aviation Business Development, said that Delta has been serving Shannon since 1986 and has carried almost 1.6 million passengers through the airport in that time.   “Following a very successful operation through Shannon this year we are very happy that Delta Air Lines will continue to serve Shannon during 2013. The support that the airline receives here in the Irish market as well delivering business and tourism visitors from the USA to the West of Ireland has ensured that the route has remained viable and profitable for the airline. Delta is the longest serving US carrier at Shannon and we will continue to work with the airline with a view to expanding its operations further over the coming years,” he said.

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Increase in flights in Irish Airspace

TheJournal.ie reports on an increase in flights through Irish Airspace over the last year:

TOTAL FLIGHTS IN Irish airspace increased by 0.50 per cent last month when compared to October 2011, according to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

There was an average of 1,450 daily flights during October 2012, with the busiest day being 19 October with 1,685 flights in Irish airspace

read more here.

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Ryanair’s Bid for Aer Lingus rejected

In slightly better news for Aer Lingus from the European Commision, Ryanair bid for its rival has been rejected. GhettoIFE covers the story here and is as “surprised” as the rest of us!

He says: Currently, a total of 40 routes are shared like for like by Aer Lingus and Ryanair – and are the only operators on that route (a good example is my local route to Dublin from Birmingham where Ryanair and Aer Lingus are the only operators… and by the time I’ve done the math, Aer Lingus are a few pennies more on a bad day… )..

 

read more here

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Redeem Gold Circle Points at Brown Thomas

Aer Lingus Gold Circle Points are not that valuable in and of themselves. There redemption level for flights is quite high and you still have to pay taxes and charges. Having said that they are useful if you need to buy back your status, and having status is quite valuable if you fly out of Dublin regularly. However this offer came to me by email recently and I thought it would be a good idea to try it out.

It offers gift cards at upmarket retailer Brown Thomas in exchange for points. 500 gets you €25, 1000 gets you €50 etc. As I had some points expiring an decided to use it. You have to email your details to goldcirclegiftcard@brownthomas.ie stating how much you would like and your GC number. I got an email back later that day to say the card is on its  way. A good use of some surplus points, perhaps for spending on christmas?

 

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Aer Lingus looses Edinburgh to Virgin

The European Commission has ruled that Virgin Atlantic should take over the ex-BMI slots for which Aer Lingus had been bidding.

“Aer Lingus has been informed that it has been ranked second in its application for slots to be released by IAG to operate the London Heathrow-Edinburgh route,” an Aer Lingus spokesman said last night.

“We are awaiting receipt of a copy of the European Commission’s decision, setting out the basis of this ranking. The process is still ongoing and we will consider the European Commission’s decision in detail upon receipt.”

Certainly a blow for Aer Lingus which as outlined here, was hoping to open its first domestic UK route. It follows a repositioning of its routes focusing on more business and short haul routes such as from their new base at Belfast. The Irish Independent and Irish Times covers it here.

Virgin however are on the up, having just launched their first domestic route, LHR – MAN recently this will be seen as a boost to an airline who may be looking to join on of the three big alliances soon.

Steve Ridgeway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said:”This is the beginning of an exciting new era in Virgin Atlantic history and we now feel a responsibility to everyone that has supported us in this challenge.”

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New US service to Shannon

In addition to recent announcements about new Dublin routes from USA, a new route will be started between Shannon and Philadelphia next summer. Operated by US Airways it is a resumption of a route that operated 4 years ago. The service, which will commence on May 22nd next, will generate an additional 30,000 passengers through the airport next year and provide a welcome boost for the West of Ireland in terms of business connections and increased tourism numbers.  It is also timely in that it will open up another key inbound destination to the West of Ireland in support of overall efforts for The Gathering in 2013.The new flights to Philadelphia – the sixth most populous city in the US – will operate on a daily basis with a two-class 176 seat Boeing 757 aircraft.  The service will run from May 22nd to September 3rd, departing Shannon at 11.35am daily, arriving in Philadelphia at 2.05 p.m. local time.  The return flight leaves Philadelphia at 9.05 p.m., arriving in Shannon at 8.40 a.m. the following day. The US Airways service to the historic city and modern-day economic powerhouse will also use Shannon Airport’s US Preclearance facility, thus ensuring speedy access on arrival in the US for all passengers and those making connecting flights beyond Philadelphia.

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Aer Arann pull out of Waterford

Aer Arann, which exclusively operates under the Aer Lingus Regional franchise brand, has announced the closure of all flight operations from Waterford Airport in the south of the Republic of Ireland.  The airline says its flights to London Luton, London Southend and Manchester will end from January 6, 2013. Aer Arann will continue to offer services to London Southend from Dublin Airport and to Manchester from Cork Airport and Shannon Airport.  It says that following a root and branch evaluation of all routes it was clear that its Waterford routes were not performing to a sustainable level, forcing it to make what it describes as a “regrettable but necessary” “We are in the process of finalising a new business plan that will put the airline on a path for growth,” said Sean Brogan, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Aer Arann.  “We have worked hard to overcome recent challenges, built a successful new partnership with Aer Lingus and grown our passenger numbers.  If we are to protect and nurture these gains, we have got to concentrate resources on services that offer sustainable returns.” The airport has naturally expressed its own disappointment in losing the services of Aer Lingus Regional from early next year after around ten years of service from Aer Arann.  The Irish regional carrier first introduced flights from Waterford in June 2003 on the London Luton route, a link previously served by Euroceltic Airways and before that by Ryanair, before it adapted to its ultra low-cost business model.  The link to Manchester began in May 2004, while London Southend joined the network in April last year. Acknowledging Aer Arann’s well documented business problems, Graham Doyle, Chief Executive Officer, Waterford Airport said the facility has been working with the carrier over recent years as it attempted to overcome its challenges.  “Regrettably, however, the airline has limited its capacity on the Waterford routes,” he said, noting this has been more due to issues elsewhere in their business rather than the market in the Southeast region with a population of almost 500,000.  “Our understanding is that the decision arises from the sale of an aircraft by Aer Arann that necessitates them further cutting their route network,” he explained. The Waterford Airport boss highlighted a particular frustration that Aer Arann reduced services on what he described as “the consistently high-performing” London Luton route in favour of developing at London Southend, whose owners are now also Aer Arann’s largest shareholder.  “The Southend route performed poorly by comparison so that even a major marketing push by Waterford Airport and our partners could not fully mitigate this switch,” he explained. “It is clearly a blow to have key UK routes withdrawn in these particular circumstances and is especially disappointing given that the Aer Lingus Regional brand was only introduced at Waterford as recently as late March of this year – just over seven months ago,” Doyle added. Aer Arann’s Interim CEO, Sean Brogan says a return to the Waterford market should not be completely ruled out “if the business case can be justified,” but the airport’s senior management has already begun work seeking replacement air services.  According to Graham Doyle “no effort is being spared” to replace these routes for 2013 and beyond. “While it’s very early days, we are guardedly optimistic that the business case for operating between Waterford and these important destinations will be attractive to another airline, as proved to be the case when Flybe took up the Birmingham route after it was dropped by Aer Arann,” he said. “We will also now liaise will all stakeholders including the Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport as well as the State agencies concerned with inward investment and tourism – all of whom continue to work closely in support of the airport.  The level of investment that there has been in tourism infrastructure in Waterford as well as the planned ‘Medieval Mile’ project in Kilkenny make it even more vital that we maintain and build on regular passenger services from our nearest neighbour and biggest trading partner,” he added.

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Air Berlin and Aer Lingus

ETIHAD boss James Hogan says he’s keen to see Aer Lingusand Air Berlin develop a codeshare agreement, but acknowledged that such a decision would be up to management at the two carriers.

Etihad owns 30pc of Air Berlin and just under 3pc of Aer Lingus.

Speaking to the Irish Independent in Dublin yesterday, Mr Hogan said that Air Berlin has a substantial footprint in Europe that could benefit Aer Lingus and a codeshare agreement could make sense.

“That’s something for those two airlines to have a talk about,” he said. “But obviously Air Berlin is a very large pan-European airline carrying 35 million passengers.

More detail from The Irish Independent

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