Founded in 1936 with a capital of £100,000, Aer Lingus is Ireland’s national flag carrier.
Aer Linugs’ first service was between Baldonnel Airfield in Dublin and Whitchurch in Bristol, England. The company used a six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon for the route, its first and only plane at that time.
In 1939, three years after being established as the national carrier under the Air Navigation and Transport Act, Aer Lingus received two Lockheed L-14, its first all-metal aircraft.
During World War II, the sole route remained to Liverpool or Barton Aerodrome Manchester, depending on the security situation.
In early November, 1945, regular services resumed with a flight to London, and one year later, Aer Lingus gained exclusive UK traffic rights from Ireland. This came for a price, 40% of the company being held now by BOAC and British European Airways.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Aer Lingus continued its expansion, purchasing Vickers Viscount 700 aircraft and introducing routes to Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome.
In late April, 1958, Aerlínte Éireann operating its first transatlantic service from Shannon to New York, but on the 1st of January, 1960, Aerlínte Éireann was renamed Aer Lingus – Irish International Airlines.
On the 14th of December, 1960, the company acquired its first jets – three Boeing 720s, followed by the Boeing 707, four years later.
In 1966, a new transatlantic route was inaugurated – from Shannon to Montreal and onward to Chicago.
In 1969, the Aer Lingus fleet received its first Boeing 737 aircraft.
In 1970, Aer Lingus received two Boeing 747s for its transatlantic routes.
Almost a decade later, in September 1979, Pope John Paul II used Aer Linugs to fly from Rome to Dublin and later from Shannon to Boston, making it the first airline other than Alitalia to be used for his transportation.
In the next fifteen years, Aer Lingus replaced its older planes and developed its short range operations in Ireland and Britain.
In 1994, Aer Linugs started operating Airbus aircraft by using the Airbus A330 for its transatlantic service, phasing out the Boeing 747.
In March 2006, Aer Linugs introduced its scheduled service to Asia, having the Dubai Internation Airport as destination.
The airline was going through tough times, Ryanair trying to take it over two times already, in 2006 and 2008.
In 2007, Aer Lingus transported more than 1 million transatlantic passengers. Three new routes to the US are introduced, including Orlando, San Francisco and Washington DC. Aer Lingus added two new A330 aircraft to its fleet.
In 2008, Aer Lingus announced a partnership with U.S airline, JetBlue Airways and signed a codeshare agreement with United Airlines.
On April 28, 2008, Aer Lingus celebrated 50 years of transatlantic flying. Aer Lingus started to upgrade of its long-haul aircraft fleet, which is rolled out from the end of 2008.
In 2010, Aer Lingus celebrated 70 years of flights at Dublin airport.
In 2011, The “Iolar aircraft” underwent a restoration project and was once again airworthy.
On May 27, 2011, Aer Lingus celebrated the 75th anniversary of its first flight between Baldonnel and Bristol, with five passengers, on a six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon named Iolar, – meaning ‘eagle’ in Irish.
In 2012, Aer Lingus announced that, under an expansion of their existing franchise relationship, Aer Arann will operate all of its services between Ireland and the UK, France and the Isle of Man under the Aer Lingus Regional brand.
In 2013, Aer Lingus started a new code-share arrangement with JetBlue, which coincided with Aer Lingus’ move of its New York flight operations into JetBlue’s acclaimed Terminal 5 at JFK. This move allows customers connecting to one of JetBlue’s many destinations across the US to benefit from one-stop ticketing, same terminal connections and baggage check-in for travel from the US to Europe on both airlines.
In February 2014, Aer Lingus commenced a damp lease of 3 Boeing B757 aircraft ASL Airlines Ireland, formerly Air Contractors, to operate long-haul routes from Dublin to Toronto and Shannon to Boston and New York. An additional 757 was leased the following year to allow expansion for the new transatlantic routes, Washington Dulles and Hartford -Connecticut.
In December 2014, International Airlines Group (IAG) (, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia) launched its first takeover-bid (€2.30 per-share) for Aer Lingus Group, but the offer was rejected by the Aer Lingus Board.
On January 27, 2015, Aer Lingus Board declared its support for IAG’s third takeover bid. IAG’s intention for the future of Aer Lingus is that Aer Lingus would operate as a separate business with its own management, brand, and operations.
In February 2015, Aer Lingus announced that it would begin to take delivery of Airbus A350 aircraft in 2018, with three aircraft delivered per year through to 2020. These nine Airbus A350 aircraft will replace the current A330 fleet.
On September 2nd, 2015, IAG assumed control of Aer Lingus after the Irish government and Ryanair agreed to the sale their stakes of 25% respectively nearly 30% to IAG and the takeover was approved by the EU and US regulators subject to IAG giving up five slot pairs at London Gatwick Airport.
In May 2016, the Dublin-Los Angeles route, ended in November 2008, was reintroduced.
In November 2016, AerClub, Aer Lingus’ Frequent Flyer Programme, was launched, replacing Gold Circle Club, the airline’s previous programme.
In January 2017, Aer Lingus announced its intention to order 7 Airbus A321LR in order to develop thinner transatlantic routes which cannot be operated profitably using A330 aircraft and also to replace the 4 Boeing B757 aircraft on lease from ASL Airlines Ireland.
In 2018, the year that Aer Lingus celebrated 60 years of flying across the Atlantic, two new transatlantic routes were inaugurated, direct service to Philadelphia and Seattle. Since joining IAG in 2015, Aer Lingus increased the number of transatlantic destinations served from nine to fifteen, marking the largest ever transatlantic expansion in its history. Aer Lingus offers a 4-Star transatlantic experience and, uniquely in Europe, access to US Customs and Border pre-clearance at Dublin and Shannon airport.
In January 2019, Aer Lingus unveiled a refreshed brand with a new logo and aircraft livery that reflects the airline’s position as a modern and contemporary Irish brand and supports Aer Lingus’ ambition to be the leading value carrier across the Atlantic.
In July 2019, Aer Lingus received its first Airbus A321LR aircraft. Also, IAG ordered six Airbus A321XLR aircraft for delivery to Aer Lingus starting 2023. Both aircraft are to be operated on key transatlantic routes.
In September 2019, Aer Lingus launched AerSpace, a new premium experience for short-haul travel. The new fare comes with a guaranteed aisle or window seat on the first row with the middle seat unoccupied, reserved overhead storage, a complimentary drink and snack, complimentary lounge access, Fast Track security, and priority boarding.
In 2020, aviation faced the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Aer Lingus reduced its flights by 95% compared with 2019, and, due to continued lack of demand in the second half of the year, Aer Lingus operated only close to 25% flights compared with the 2019 schedule. Quickly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Aer Lingus quickly reduced its costs by aligning working hours and pay with the amount of work required, reducing the number of employees, and right-sizing the fleet. In addition to temporary measures, Aer Lingus implemented longer-term restructuring, consistent with the expected multi-year impact on demand of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Aer Lingus established its new subsidiary, Aer Lingus UK, a UK-based airline that would compete with Virgin Atlantic, as well as fill in part of the void left by Thomas Cook Airlines. The airline’s operations began with the Manchester – Barbados route’s launch on October 20, 2021, followed in December by Aer Lingus’ first ever non-stop direct route from Manchester to New York – JFK and a third route from Manchester to Orlando.
In 2021, in the first half of the year, Aer Lingus’s capacity continued to be severely limited by the stringent restrictions put in place by the Irish government, with passenger load factors averaging only 20%. In the 3rd quarter, Aer Lingus expanded its operations following the ease of travel restrictions for non-essential travel in July and the transfer of some Aer Lingus Regional routes from Stobart Air which ceased operations in June.
In October 2021, Aer Lingus announced its ambitious Summer 2022 schedule, which includes 16 Transatlantic routes out of three European gateways, 62 destinations across the Aer Lingus network, and 71 routes in total.
Aer Lingus is Ireland’s only 4-Star airline, awarded by Skytrax, and the national airline with headquarters at Dublin Airport, Ireland. The airline also provides cargo transportation services to the UK, Continental Europe, and the US. Aer Lingus further enhances connectivity options to Canada, the US, and the UK, through its airline partners: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, WestJet, and United Airlines.
During its long history, Aer Lingus had eight major incidents, seven accidents leaving planes written-off, three of them being fatal, and one hijacking. The last incident with casualties happened in 1968 when all the 61 people flying from Cork to London in a Viscount EI-AOM “St. Phelim” perished after the plane crashed near Tuskar Rock.