Cleveland will soon be reconnected with Europe.
Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, will launch service next May between its hub at Dublin Airport (DUB) and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE). The service, which begins on May 21, will operate four times a week using the carrier’s Airbus A321LR aircraft, a longer-range variant of the A321neo.
While a formal announcement is expected Wednesday, the carrier has already loaded the new flights in its reservation system, allowing the news to be confirmed by TPG. Aer Lingus did not respond to a request for comment from TPG about the new service ahead of the announcement. The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported that the service was expected to be announced.
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To lure Aer Lingus to Cleveland, local government and business groups joined together to offer the carrier an incentive package worth an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million, the Plain Dealer reported. Such packages are common — especially for long-haul air service to smaller markets. For example, a coalition of local civic and business leaders joined together in St. Louis to lure the German flag carrier Lufthansa, which began its service this past June. That deal is worth up to $5 million, paid out over three years.
Aer Lingus’ flight will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flight EI86 departs Cleveland at 8:20 p.m. and arrives in Dublin the next morning at 8:50 a.m., all times local. The return flight, EI87, departs Dublin at 3:30 p.m. and arrives in Cleveland at at 6:50 p.m.
For round trips departing Dublin, economy fares are as low as 648 euros ($624). For the same itinerary, business-class fares are pricing at 2,333 euros ($2,248). Fares are slightly higher for round trips departing Cleveland.
Aer Lingus’ A321LR seats 16 passengers in lie-flat business class and 168 in economy class. When TPG’s Nicky Kelvin flew this business class product, he called the experience “brilliant” and the onboard experience “fresh and comfortable.”
When launched, Aer Lingus’ flight will be the city’s first service to Europe since the summer of 2018, when both Icelandair and now-defunct Wow Air served Cleveland from Keflavik Airport (KEF), according to Cirium schedule data. The last scheduled full transatlantic crossing was in 2009, when Continental Airlines ended service between Cleveland and London Heathrow Airport (LHR). Soon after, Continental merged with United Airlines, and United later closed its Cleveland hub.
Aer Lingus itself is not a stranger to serving secondary markets in the U.S.: it served Bradley International Airport (BDL) near Hartford, Connecticut from 2016 to 2019.