Aer Lingus’ new look

The Irish airline rebrands as it prepares to expand its route network and accept new aircraft.

Aer Lingus’ new livery features a two-tone green and retains the distinctive shamrock on the tail.
Michael Kelly

ALTHOUGH NEVER one of Europe’s largest airlines, Aer Lingus has always stood out, thanks to the look of its aircraft.

The Irish flag carrier has for decades proudly emphasised its national identity by using the colour green and the shamrock on its aircraft, with previous liveries including the ‘green top’ colour scheme in the 1960s, the brighter green and white shamrock introduced in the 1970s and the current upper-fuselage green introduced in 1996.

On January 17, 2019, in a ceremony at Dublin, the airline unveiled its latest livery as the carrier prepares to expand further its operations across the Atlantic and receive the new long-range Airbus A321 subvariant, the A321LR.

Irish identity

Green and the shamrock continue in Aer Lingus’ refreshed identity, albeit in a different form.

The aircraft fuselage is now predominantly white, with a twotone colour of teal and light green limited to the rear fuselage and tail and the engines. The shamrock has been restyled (apparently 50 different versions of its design were considered during the design process) and appears bolder than on the previous livery, thanks to the darker background. The new livery was created by New York-based agency Lippincott, which was responsible for recent rebrands at Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest and Delta.

The first two aircraft to be repainted in the new colours were Airbus A330-200 EI-EDY St Munchin (msn 1025) and A321-211 EI-CVA St Schira (msn 1242). All the airline’s aircraft will be repainted by the end of 2020.

Transatlantic ambition

New aircraft joining the fleet will, of course, be delivered in the scheme. These upcoming arrivals will comprise 14 A321LRs and four A330s according to a fleet plan from Aer Lingus’ parent company IAG (also owner of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Level).

Aer Lingus’ long-haul fleet will expand to 20 aircraft this year, with three A321LRs joining the eight A330-300s, five A330-200s and four Boeing 757s in service. Further A321LR deliveries and the arrival of new A330s (together with the retirements of the 757s) will take the long-haul fleet to 23 aircraft next year, before further growth to 27 in 2021, 29 in 2022 and 30 aircraft in 2023.

The new jets will be used to grow Aer Lingus’ network across the North Atlantic. By 2023, the airline’s weekly transatlantic frequencies will number 196 (up from 115 last year) and the number of North American destinations will increase by 40% to 18. New services starting this year are Dublin–Minneapolis/St Paul and Dublin–Montreal.

The first rebranded Aer Lingus A320 flying off the Irish coast after repainting in Shannon.
Aer Lingus

The expansion is more evidence of rising North Atlantic air travel demand, a trend IAG thinks will continue: it predicts an annual growth rate of 11% in available seatkm in the market out to 2023.

Transatlantic long-haul is highly competitive, because of more capacity from major European and North American network airlines and low-cost carriers such as Norwegian and WestJet entering the market, but Aer Lingus’ stated aim is to be “the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic”.

At last year’s IAG Capital Markets Day, the airline’s then- Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kavanaugh (succeeded in January 2019 by Sean Doyle) said Aer Lingus has several things in its favour as it works towards this goal.

Kavanaugh highlighted the passenger feed for Aer Lingus services generated by the carrier’s own short-haul European network into Dublin and Shannon and codeshares with JetBlue and Alaska Airlines at New York JFK and the West Coast.

He also cited the airline understanding transatlantic markets due to its long experience serving them (its first service to the United States was in 1958) and noted 34 million people identify as Irish- American, which creates a large market of people for whom flying on an Irish airline could potentially be a differentiator.

Above all, however, it is the forthcoming A321LR that IAG believes will be instrumental, with Kavanaugh saying the aircraft’s 4,000 nautical miles (7,408km) range and efficiencies will enable Aer Lingus to unlock new opportunities.

He explained: “New engine technology will protect us and insulate from the worst of fuel cost increases, particularly after replacing [the] 757. With the A321LR, when it has done a North Atlantic crossing [it] will continue through Dublin and serve our European network.

“We believe we have found a mechanism where this investment increases block-hour utilisation [and] value to customers in terms of product while at the same time reducing unit cost.”