Image courtesy of Aer Lingus 

Aer Lingus has reached a milestone with 25 years of Airbus A330 operations on 7th May 2019. In the fleet only three other aircraft types exceeded 25 years service the BAC One-Eleven achieving 25 1⁄2 years, the Boeing 737 (all variants) 36 1⁄2 years and the Boeing 707/720 25 3⁄4 years (Irish Air Letter May 2019).

On 17th September 1993 F-WWKD Airbus A330-301 Air Inter visited Dublin Airport on demonstration to Aer Lingus.

The Airbus A330 was specifically built to meet the requirements of Air Inter whom placed an order for 15 aircraft plus 15 options for high density domestic French routes.

After an extensive evaluation of aircraft economics and market opportunities Aer Lingus selected the Airbus A330-300 aircraft to replace it’s fleet of Boeing 747’s. Mr Conor McCarthy, Chairman Dublin Aerospace and CEO PlaneConsult and former Aer Lingus Commuter CEO , managed the introduction of the Airbus A330 into the fleet enabling retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet.

Under Conor’s leadership Aer Lingus reached agreement with key suppliers on the Airbus A330 programme Airbus, General Electric and aircraft lessor ILFC on the A330 which would be transformational in terms of operating economics, making the North Atlantic profitable with fuel burn 25% lower than Boeing 747 and 50% greater cargo capacity.

Interestingly F-WWKP MSN 55 callsign ‘AIB 055’ visited Dublin in full Aer Lingus colours prior delivery as EI-DUB on familiarization sortie.

The first aircraft EI-SHN Airbus A330-301 was delivered 2nd May 1994 followed by EI-DUB on 11th May.  EI-SHN entered commercial service on 7th May operating EIN152 on Dublin to London Heathrow route. Over subsequent weeks the two aircraft EI-DUB and EI-SHN where operating proving flights on European and London Heathrow routes prior to introduction of Transatlantic  services with the type.

The first transatlantic service took place on 16th May 1994 when EI-SHN operated flight EIN105 Shannon-Dublin-JFK. the A330 entered full service on 1st June 1994 with two aircraft, EI-SHN and EI-DUB, operating daily services on the Shannon-JFK and Dublin-JFK routes (Irish Air Letter May 2019).

Two years after Air Inter became the launch customer for the Airbus A330 the carrier stated the aircraft was no longer suitable for domestic flights and the market which have had changed between the order time and the deliver time with the introduction of European Open Skies and entry of low cost carriers.

The changed market conditions for Air Inter whom parked the aircraft presented Aer Lingus with an opportunity to acquire F-GMDD Airbus A330-303 MSN 059 which was delivered in March 1997 as EI-ORD.

A fifth Airbus A330-301 allocated for allocated on the production line for Air Inter as F-GMDE MSN 086 was delivered to Aer Lingus as EI-JFK on 11th July 1995. This specific aircraft was an opportunistic acquisition and was delivered in basic configuration.

Aer Lingus painted the aircraft in “Vacations Ireland” colours to operate Belfast International-Shannon-New York JFK seasonal summer services in 1995 and 1996 before reconfiguration to standard Airbus A330 layout.

According to Aer Lingus has operated 18 Airbus A330 airframes in its fleet between 1994 and 2018 including current and historic aircraft.

A330 Current Fleet

EI-DAA Airbus A330-302 MSN 397 “St Keeva”
EI-DUO Airbus A330-202 MSN 841  “St Columba”
EI-DUZ Airbus A330-302 MSN 847 “St Aoife”
EI-EAV Airbus A330-302 MSN 985 “St Ronan”
EI-EDY Airbus A330-302 MSN 1025 “St Munchin”
EI-ELA Airbus A330-302 MSN 1106 “St Patrick”
EI-EWR Airbus A330-202 MSN 330 “St Thomas”
EI-FNG Airbus A330-303 MSN 1742 “St Colmcille”
EI-FNH Airbus A330-303 MSN 1744 “St Laurence O’Toole”
EI-GAJ Airbus A330-302 MSN 1791 “St Carthage”
EI-GCF Airbus A330-302 MSN 1817  “St Aengus”
EI-GEY Airbus A330-202 MSN 441 “St Brendan”
EI-LAX Airbus A330-202 MSN 269 “St Mella”

A330 Historic Fleet

EI-CRK Airbus A330-301 MSN 070 “St Brigid”
EI-DUB Airbus A330-301 MSN 055  “St Patrick”
EI-JFK  Airbus A330-301 MSN 086  “St Colmcille”
EI-ORD Airbus A330-301 MSN 059  “St Maeve”
EI-SHN Airbus A330-301 MSN 054  “St Flannan”

Speaking at IAG Capital Market Day November 2019 former Aer Lingus CEO and current director Stephen Kavanagh said the airline plans to grow its A330 fleet from 13 to 16 aircraft by 2023 with two Airbus A330-300s due for delivery this winter and a further two in 2022.

Stephen Kavanagh said the A330 platform would “transition” to the -300 rather than the -200 providing additional seats at “close to zero incremental costs”.

The Airbus A330-300 will remain the mainstay of Aer Lingus operations for many years with the aircraft offering very attractive operating costs per seat with the versatility to cover all ranges from short-haul to long-haul.

Thanks to Alan Dwyer and Damian Bracken for inputs into this article.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 19 May 2019 All Rights Reserved