Irish carrier Aer Arann took delivery of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft last Friday. The May 3 delivery marked the first of eight of the new -600 model that the airline has ordered to replace its existing fleet of ATR72-200s and smaller ATR42-300s.
The European Commission’s August 29 decision to launch a full probe into Ryanair’s proposed takeover of Aer Lingus appears to mean that all bets are off in terms of the long-term ownership of the Irish flag carrier. Under stock market rules, Ryanair’s bid for a majority stake in Aer Lingus automatically expired with the move by regulators, who believe the resulting merger would prove anti-competitive.
Two years after entering bankruptcy protection, restructured Irish regional operator Aer Arann has embarked on a fleet-replacement program. Last month it neared a resolution to negotiations to acquire eight ATR 72-600s, reflecting expectations for rejuvenation of a business that has fought valiantly to escape the ravages of the Irish economic collapse.
ATR announced more than $600 million worth of firm orders at the show yesterday, led by an eight-unit deal with Taiwan’s TransAsia for ATR 72-600s. Meanwhile, the Franco-Italian manufacturer logged a separate pair of orders, each for two ATR 72-600s, from Air Lease Corporation and Lao Airlines.
The ATR 72-500 was approved to start operations at London City Airport in early February and has entered service with Irish regional airline Aer Arann on its route to the Isle of Man. The UK approval process requires a series of test flights to establish that the aircraft and operator can cope with the downtown airport’s 5.5-deg approach and its 3,900-foot runway, while also meeting strict noise limits.
One of Aer Arann’s busiest areas must be its personnel department: “We have experienced huge growth in the past two years, particularly in flight crew and operations. Given our current rate of growth, flight crew [numbers] have grown above 30 percent per year and will continue at 15 to 20 percent,” according to head of operations John Halpin.
Aer Arann performs its own line maintenance, with base checks contracted to TAT at Dinard in northern France, said COO Peter McKenna. Components go to sister company Aer Arann Islands in Connemara. The airline employs 25 maintenance staff, and generally adds two or three people with each additional aircraft.
In an industry where airlines have all too often been run by aviators instead of businessmen, Aer Arann chief executive Padraig O’Ceidigh (pronounced ‘O’Kaygee’) has brought a cautious–if not typically Irish–approach to the airline. “The most important word in business is ‘no’,” he asserts.
Irish regional airline Aer Arann underscored its willingness to challenge air transport convention over the summer when it opened the first direct air link between Belfast and Dublin in eight years. But a little more than two months later, economic pragmatism trumped any political or symbolic value the new route might have carried, when CEO Padraig O’Ceidigh ended the experiment almost as abruptly as it began.
Irish regional airline Aer Arran has selected Meggitt group subsidiary Dunlop Aerospace Braking Systems (DABS) to support its ATR 72 twin-turboprop fleet, including replacement aircraft currently on order. DABS is continuing to invest in research and development to improve its ATR 72 wheels and brakes, with plans for an advanced anti-oxidation system to enhance performance.