The Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus has been forced to wetlease aircraft and crew from British Airways on its Belfast City to London Heathrow route because of “Brexit-related” complications the airline has confirmed.
In the aviation industry, a wetlease deal is when an airline hires both the aircraft and its crew from a third-party operator to fly services on their behalf. It is also formally known as an ACMI deal which stands for ‘aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance’.
Wetlease deals are a popular and cost-efficient way for an airline to boost capacity during peak travel periods, although British Airways has wetleased aircraft in the past due to a cabin crew strikes and Norwegian was forced to spend millions of dollars wetleasing aircraft because of problems with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Aer Lingus has been forced into a similar predicament because a temporary licence that allowed the Dublin-based carrier to operate UK domestic flights in the aftermath of Brexit is about to expire.
The airline has operated services between Belfast City in Northern Ireland and Heathrow since 2007, and in a statement, a spokesperson for Aer Lingus said the airline was “very keen” to keep operating the service.
Under the wetlease deal, British Airways will operate the route on behalf of Aer Lingus for at least the next six months because BA has the required license to operate UK domestic flights.
The flights will still be sold by Aer Lingus and will also operate from Heathrow’s Terminal 2 where all other Aer Lingus flights arrive and depart from. The onboard service will be the standard Aer Lingus service but provided by British Airways cabin crew.
Aer Lingus said in a statement: “We are engaging with the relevant authorities in order to allow us to continue to serve this route into the future.”
“For the upcoming winter season we will be working with our sister airline, British Airways, to ensure there is continuity of service and no impact to any of our passengers’ journeys.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.