MIAMI- International Airlines Group (IAG) has continued its recent service expansion, this time within the United Kingdom.

Back in January, IAG and primarily Iberia (IB), announced the €500m (USD$590m) acquisition of Air Europa (UX). Now, IAG’s attention has turned to Manchester (MAN) in northern England, traditionally a long-haul stronghold for airlines such as TUI (BY), Virgin Atlantic (VS), and formerly Thomas Cook (TCX).

These new services mark the airline’s first direct connections from the UK to the US and the Caribbean. Aer Lingus (EI) will commence four new routes from Manchester Airport flying to New York JFK (JFK) and Orlando (MCO) from 29 July, to Barbados (BGI) from 20 October, and to Boston (BOS) from summer 2022.

Aer Lingus EI-DVL Airbus A320-214. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

The Routes and Aircraft

New York JFK and Boston will be served by the airline’s new Airbus A321LR. This marks the UK’s first regular scheduled service on this particular aircraft across the Atlantic. The aircraft offers a total of 184 seats in a two-class configuration. Both of these destinations have been popular with British Airways’ London based rival Virgin Atlantic in recent years. The carrier operated its Boeing 747-400 to New York and its A330 to Boston from Manchester.

According to the airline, the New York JFK and Boston services will serve 58 onward destinations, with a schedule designed to maximise onward connectivity to exciting destinations such as Las Vegas, Nashville, and Jamaica, and for the first time from Manchester to San Jose, Bermuda and Dallas. Giving travellers from the north of England enhanced travel options to North America.

This is in contrast to Orlando and Barbados, which will both be served with their more traditional long-haul Airbus A330-300. This particular aircraft offers a total of 317 seats in a two-class configuration. These routes will be considered as leisure routes and are not focussed as much on passenger connections to onward destinations.

Aer Lingus EI-DEP Airbus A320-214. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

Corporate Reaction

As part of its significant expansion into Manchester, Aer Lingus will create up to 120 job opportunities in the North of England. Recruitment will be predominantly for cabin crew roles, together with additional positions within Maintenance and Engineering, and Ground Operations.

David Shepherd, Aer Lingus Chief Commercial Officer, said, “We are delighted to offer high-quality, direct, non-stop, business and leisure travel options, at very reasonable prices for travellers and holidaymakers across the North of England.”

Shepherd also remembered how Aer Lingus has been flying to North America for more than 60 years and the history EI has hadwith Manchester Airport. “With so many people missing out on travel due to Covid-19 over the past year, Aer Lingus is delighted to be sharing this positive news today,’ said the EI CCO.

Shephard also stated that the operation of the innovative Airbus A321LR aircraft marked a milestone for EI, as it was one of the first carriers to fly the aircraft between the UK and the US.

On her part, Karen Smart, Manchester Airport Managing Director, said, “Aer Lingus’ commitment to these new services will be a real boost for those passengers we know are keen to start travelling as soon as the current restrictions can be lifted. This demonstration of pent-up demand is another reason why it is more important than ever that the Government develops proposals to restart travel that are clear, uncomplicated and affordable. We eagerly await the findings of the Global Taskforce in April.”

Aer Lingus is one of the longest serving airlines operating from Manchester, and this announcement has confirmed its commitments with the airport going forward.

Featured image: Aer Lingus EI-LRB Airbus A321-253NX. Otto Kirchof/Airways