Founded on 15th April 1936, Aer Lingus' first flight place just a few months later. The airline was created by the Irish Government with the primary objective of providing flights between Ireland and the UK. The inaugural flight left Dublin's Baldonnel Airfield and terminated at Bristol Whitchurch (now closed) when the airline's only plane was a six-seater Havilland 84 Dragon. Later that year the airline added a 14-seater Havilland 86 Express biplane to the fleet and as a result, could offer the first flights between Dublin and London, and soon after, the first Dublin to Liverpool link. Before the beginning of WWII, Aer Lingus was also offering flights to the Isle of Man.
More routes were added throughout the late 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s, including services to Paris, Rome, Brussels and Amsterdam via Manchester. Aerlínte Éireann was established in 1947, offering the first transatlantic flights from Shannon to New York. In 1960 Aerlínte Éireann was renamed Aer Lingus - Irish International Airlines. The shamrock logo can be found on the tail of these planes, having replaced the previously used Irish flag. Throughout the 70s the airline had a number of memorable achievements, including the recruitment of their first female pilot in 1977, the 2nd airline in Europe to do so. Aer Lingus was also the only airline besides Alitalia to be used by Pope John Paul II. The principal group companies include Aer Lingus Limited, Aer Lingus Beachey Limited, Aer Lingus (Ireland) Limited and Dirnan Insurance Company Limited, all of which are wholly owned. Aer Lingus operates a fleet of 47 modern Airbus aircraft and carries over 10.6 million passengers per annum on mainline and regional franchise services.
As the national airline of Ireland, Aer Lingus has its headquarters at Dublin Airport. Aer Lingus serves numerous airports in the UK, including London Gatwick, London City, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, Belfast, Aberdeen, Liverpool John Lennon, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol and Glasgow International Airports. Across Europe the airline serves approximately 50 airports including Amsterdam Schipol, Frankfurt, Munich, Sofia, Valencia, Athens and Zurich Airport. In Asia, Aer Lingus offers flights to and from Bahrain, Muscat, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore airports. San Francisco, Washington D.C, New York, Orlando and Chicago are some of the North American destinations served by this airline.
The airline uses several airline partners to optimise connectivity to the USA, the UK and Canada. These partners include Jetblue Airways, Stobart Air and United Airlines. Aer Lingus commenced contract flying services in 2013 serving domestic UK services between London Heathrow and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester on behalf of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited. Aer Lingus opts to fly to central airports in order to allow passengers to reach their likely destinations more conveniently.
Boutique magazine is available on all flights and offers luxury products to be purchased. Aer Lingus offers a frequent flyer programme in the form of the Gold Circle Club. The Club is broken down into three categories: Gold Circle, Gold Circle Prestige and Gold Circle Elitem each providing various benefits.
The airline offer two ticket types: Economy Class and Business Class (formerly Premier Class). Economy Class grants passengers travelling to parts of Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor food and refreshments to purchase on board and a seat with a 32 inch pitch. For longer haul flights to certain parts of Europe and North America, free meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the ticket price along with individual TV screens offering video on demand. A Kids' Zone is also onboard, showing Disney films and shows aimed at a younger audience. Wi-Fi is available for a fee, and the seats on these services also offer a 32 inch pitch. Business Class is only available on long-haul flights (North America and some parts of Europe) and offers free meals and drinks, personal TV screens with video on demand and free Wi-Fi. Business Class seats offer a 52 inch pitch.