Aer Lingus today brought its total aircraft orders with Airbus Industrie to thirteen when the airline confirmed a new order for six Airbus A320 aircraft to operate on the airline`s Continental European network.
The total value of the thirteen aircraft exceeds $700 million.
The announcement was made in Paris by the airline`s Chairman, Bernie Cahill, in the presence of the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mrs Mary O`Rourke, T.D., and the company`s Group Chief Executive, Gary McGann.
The new order was confirmed on the day that the airline took delivery of the first of six new Airbus A321 aircraft for the very successful and expanding Ireland / London routes. Aer Lingus also confirmed an order for the larger Airbus A330-200 to be delivered in 1999 for future Transatlantic developments.
First A321 aircraft delivered for London Route
The bigger A321 aircraft will provide extra capacity to meet anticipated growth on the London routes of 10% over last year and a further 15% in 1999. With continuing slot restraints at Heathrow, and the need to continue to enhance the product and service quality, Mr Cahill said the addition of a larger aircraft type provides Aer Lingus with the capacity to satisfy the needs of a discerning market cost effectively.
He said the airline had examined a number of possible options and described the decision to opt for Airbus as being primarily “customer oriented” and part of Aer Lingus` ongoing investment in “a differentiated quality of service”. He said the deal on offer for both the A321 and A320 aircraft was “a very attractive offer”. The funding of the six A321s would comprise a combination of lease arrangemetns and purchases.
New Order Places For Six Airbus A320s
In confirming the order for six Airbus A320 aircraft to replace Boeing 737-400 aircraft, the Group`s Chairman, Mr Cahill said that the A320 was an ideal aircraft for the shorthaul Continental European destinations and offered the advantages of commonality with its sister A321.
The six A320 aircraft are scheduled for delivery by 2002. The Aer Lingus version of the A320 will accommodate a maximum of 161 passengers in an all-economy version.
Mr Cahill went on to state that the overall programme of fleet development will ensure that the Aer Lingus fleet will retain a low average age. “The acquisition of aircraft on a split purchase/leasing arrangement provides the maximum level of flexibility to enable the airline to adjust to changing market conditions”, he added.