Aer Lingus is an anglicised version on the Irish aerloingeas which means air fleet. It is the flag carrier airline for Ireland and is its second largest airline. It was founded by the Irish Government in 1936 and was associated with Blackpool and West Coast Air Services who advanced the money for the first aircraft. Its first flight was between Baldonnel Airfield in Dublin and Bristol Airport in the UK using a six seater de Havilland DH.84Dragon biplane. It then gained a second aircraft which linked Dublin and London by extending the Bristol service to Croydon and added a Dublin-Liverpool route. They continued to grow and in 1940 they moved to a new airport in the suburbs of Dublin, although during World war II operations were restricted to routes to Liverpool or Barton Aerodrome Manchester.
After the war they resumed their usual services and introduced flight attendants. Due to a new Anglo-Irish agreement they were able to grow and buy seven new aircraft, but they were uneconomical and sold. However a new prime minister in 1947 slowed growth as he felt flying the Atlantic was too big a scheme for such a small country. However they managed to expand to Brussels, Amsterdam and Rome and acquired a bigger fleet. It was in 1958 when they eventually were able to offer their first transatlantic service and in 1960 they acquired some Boeing 720’s so entered the jet age. In 1965 they started converting all of their fleet to jet aircraft and they extended many of their routes, although flights from Belfast had to be stopped due to the beginning of The Troubles. In 1969 they gained their first Boeing 737’s so they could fulfil demand for flights form Dublin to London and then used them all European flights. In 1971 they bought their first Boeing 747’s and they used them for transatlantic flights. In 1977 they recruited their first female pilot being the second European airline to do so. In 1979 they were the only European airline apart from Alitalia to be used by Pope John Paul II when he flew from Rome to Dublin on a specially adapted Boeing 747.
More recently they updated their fleet again using the Airbus A330 and phasing out the Boeings replacing them with Airbus planes. In 2001 they had problems with business due to the 11 September Attacks and so reduced its fleet, cut staff and destinations and this helped it to survive. It also offered flights to mainland Europe, which previously it had not focussed on, choosing to concentrate on British and US destinations. It therefore managed to make its mark among the no-frills airlines in Europe. In 2005 it made its first flight to Asia.
The company was sold by the government and was floated on the Irish Stock exchange and the London Stock Exchange in October 2006 with the government maintaining a 28% share and employees a 15% share. It had planned to then expand but the economic situation prevented this. In 2006 Ryanair launched a bid to buy the company and it bought significant amounts of shares. However the European Commission had concerns over competition and prevented it.
In 2007 the airline established its first base outside of the Republic of Ireland at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland. Five years later it moved to George Best Belfast City airport and launched more routes form there. In 2008 the global financial crises led to the company announcing a money saving plan where there were many job loses and they outsourced roles such as baggage handling and check in as well as putting in a pay freeze. These were eventually cancelled due to trade union opposition. The following year, due to losses, more cost cutting plans were put into action. In 2008 there was a second takeover bid by Ryanair but it was rejected by the shareholders. In this year it also opened a new base at Gatwick Airport, allowing it to offer new routes, but it reduced these in 2010. In 2012 Ryanair made another takeover bid which was again rejected by the shareholders and they also announced that no takeover bid from them was likely to be successful. In 2014 and 2015 IAG; owners of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, launched a takeover bid. In 2015 the Irish government sold its 25% holding to IAG and Ryanair the sold their shares too so the takeover could go ahead. It remains an independent operation with the same branding as before.
As quite a big player, it is likely that many people have now flown with Aer Lingus. Like all airlines they do sometimes have problems with flights, such as delays, cancellations and overbooking and it is worth knowing about the possibility for claiming compensation, if this is something that has happened to you. As Aer Lingus is an EU airline then you are able to make claims through the EU regulation 261/2004. This can pay up to 600 Euros per passenger if it is felt that you fit the conditions. If the flight is cancelled due to a fault by the airline, then you can be offered a refund, alternative flight and you could also get compensation if the replacement flight is not for a significant amount of time. If the flight is delayed meaning that you arrive at more than three hours after your scheduled time then you can claim compensation. If the plane is overbooked then things are slightly more complicated. If you volunteer to wait for another flight then it is up to you to negotiate with the airline at the time. However, if they force you to leave, which they may do if there are not enough volunteers, then you will be able to claim compensation.