Aer Lingus to Cut Flights from Gatwick

The Guardian is reporting that Aer Lingus will be cutting the number of flights it operates from Gatwick, just a year after creating a new base at the airport.

The Irish airline announced this morning that it will cut the number of Airbus A320 aircraft based at Gatwick from five to three, effective March 31. The move will mean a reduction in the number of destinations served from the airport.

Aer Lingus blamed the decision on "weak consumer demand and continuing challenges in the UK operating environment, which have impacted aviation sector performance generally." The remaining planes will fly to Malaga, Dublin, Knock and Cork.

When it announced its new base at Gatwick in December 2008, Aer Lingus said it planned to operate eight planes at Gatwick by April 2010. But over the last year, the economic downturn has forced the company to cut costs. Aer Lingus is also deferring the delivery of two new A320 planes, from October and November 2010 to April and May 2011.

Aer Lingus today also announced traffic statistics for the month of December 2009. The airline's total passenger numbers in December 2009 were 766,000, an increase of 9.0 percent compared to December 2008. Short haul passengers were 693,000, a 13.2 percent increase on December 2008 and long haul passengers were 73,000, a 19.8 percent decrease on December 2008.