Friday, October 12, 2007

Astraeus to do Shannon to Heathrow flights. What about St Johns?

Just heard on the radio that the Atlantic Connectivity Alliance is applying for landing slots in Heathrow on behalf of Astraeus Airlines to run a service from Heathrow to Shannon. For those who don't know Aer Lingus pulled out of the Shannon to Heathrow route a few months ago and since then there has been political in-fighting and failed attempts to get airlines to replace Aer Lingus. Now Astraeus appears to has stepped up and may save Shannon but if I was in the ACA I'd be asking Astraeus for some reassurance before pinning all their hopes on them. You see Astraeus did exactly the same thing for St Johns in Newfoundland as they are offering for Shannon and that didn't turn out as successful as was hoped.

Air Canada pulled out of the St Johns to Gatwick route saying there wasn't enough demand. Astraeus stepped in last February and introduced "a year-round service between St. John's and the United Kingdom, filling a void created last fall by Air Canada". Great, same as Shannon, good for Astraeus. Unfortunately just 5 months later they rolled back on that and cancelled their winter service. The demand was not there to support a year round service, just like Air Canada said. The Newfoundlanders that I know were not too impressed as they now have to fly from St John's to Halifax to get a flight to London. It sucks and it does impact me directly since I'm heading over to St Johns again at the end of the month, but you cant really blame Astraeus, they are in business to make money. If you want an airline to serve less profitable routes you probably should have a national airline, like Aer Lingus was before the government sold it. What will happen in 6 months if Astraeus realise the Shannon route really isn't a great money spinner and Aer Lingus didn't walk away from a money printing machine?

1 comment:

-Ann said...

For what it's worth, I think that's an apples and oranges comaprison. There's a bit difference between a long-haul flight and a short flight with quick turn-around times.

Aer Lingus' big problem is cost - by packing up to Belfast, they can restructure a lot of that cost (like forcing pilots to eventually work for less money or hiring new ground crew on cheaper and less favourable contracts). If a new airline comes in who already has a lower cost base, they should be able to make a profit. My understanding is that it's not that Shannon-Heathrow is an unprofitable route, it's that it's not profitable enough for Aer Lingus.

I do worry about Shannon's future though, with the end of the Atlantic stop-over. And I do have a vested interest in wanting them to succeed as I don't want to have to drive to Dublin when I go to the States.