Aer Lingus marks anniversary with historic flight and new departure | Bristol Airport
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Aer Lingus marks anniversary with historic flight and new departure

Created: 27th May 2016

Classic Iolar aircraft soars over Bristol 80 years since first scheduled service.


Bristol Airport celebrated the 80th anniversary of Aer Lingus today (27 May) with a visit from the Irish Ambassador to Great Britain and series of very special flights. The Irish airline, which operated its very first route from Baldonnel (Dublin) to Bristol back in 1936, also marked the occasion by announcing the introduction of additional daily flights linking the two cities and consolidating operations in the South West of the UK to Bristol.

Along with a daily flight to Cork, the current Bristol-Dublin service (operated by Stobart Air on behalf of Aer Lingus Regional) provides an important link between Ireland and the South West of England, as well as opening up onward connections to North America. Its popularity with business and leisure passengers has resulted in demand for additional frequency on the route. The airline will now operate four daily flights every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, alongside the existing three daily flights each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In total, Aer Lingus Regional will now fly 25 flights per week between the two cities, taking weekly capacity to 4,500 seats – a contrast to the first ever flight 80 years ago which carried just five passengers on a six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon.

A sister aircraft and exact replica of the original Dragon, named Iolar (meaning eagle), took to the skies over Bristol, taking in the original site of the city’s Airport in Whitchurch, with passengers including the Irish Ambassador, Daniel Mulhall and other VIP guests. The occasion was also marked with a presentation of specially commissioned Bristol Blue glass shamrocks to the Ambassador and senior airline representatives.

Mike Rutter, Chief Operating Officer at Aer Lingus, said:

“As the destination for the very first Aer Lingus flight, Bristol has a special place in our history. Looking to the future, the introduction of a fourth daily Dublin flight underlines our commitment to serving the South West of the UK and carrying even more passengers between Bristol and Ireland over the coming years. For hundreds of thousands of South West passengers Aer Lingus flights have become not only the gateway to Ireland but also their gateway to North America.” 

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said:

“We wanted to celebrate Bristol Airport’s long and successful association with Aer Lingus, and also to highlight the strong links between Ireland and the South West. Frequent flights benefit business and tourism at both ends of the route, so the announcement of a fourth daily service between Bristol and Dublin is great news.”

Martin Saxton, Chief Commercial Officer at Stobart Air, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to mark this historic milestone with the introduction of increased capacity on our Bristol to Dublin route. The route has come a long way since the inaugural Aer Lingus Flight in 1936, carrying a modest five passengers on a six seater plane. Today it continues to prove a hugely popular route for both business and leisure passengers, and the additional frequency will now bring Aer Lingus Regional’s weekly route capacity to 4,500 seats.”