Aer Arann is to grow its network across the Irish Sea after extending a franchise deal to fly under Aer Lingus colours until 2022.
The carrier, which operates under the Aer Lingus Regional brand, aims to double passenger numbers to more than two million in five years.
This follows a 32% rise in carryings last year, with total passenger growth of 16% in the past two years.
The airline is taking delivery of eight new ATR 72-600s aircraft to replace the older existing fleet of ATR72-200s and ATR42s.
The first new aircraft is due to enter service in May, with the remainder expected for delivery over the next 11 months. The new fleet will be fully operational in time for summer 2014.
Additional frequencies on key UK routes this summer include more flights from Dublin to Birmingham and Manchester. The additional services will increase passenger numbers by 300,000 by the end of 2014 and bring the airline’s route network to 24.
Combined with existing Aer Lingus mainline services to Manchester and Birmingham, the new services will result in a “significant ramping up” of frequencies to two of the busiest routes on the Ireland to UK network.
Dublin-Birmingham frequency will go up from three to six flights a day while Dublin-Manchester will go from three to five a day.
Services from Dublin to Edinburgh and Glasgow are also being increased to six flights a day. There are further plans to add more services from Southend airport.
Announcing a “new beginning” for the airline, interim chief executive Sean Brogan said: “Just over two years ago, we stared closure in the face. Now, we have the fundamentals in place to join Europe’s top tier of regional airlines.
“The completion of our restructuring programme represents a new beginning for the airline.
“Our extended franchise agreement with Aer Lingus to 2022 gives us a firm foundation for growth, and the fleet renewal programme allows us to enhance the passenger offering further.”
He added: “We have come a long way in a short time, but much remains to be done. We will only continue to push forward positively if we maximise the opportunities that have been secured.”
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