May 22, 1936: Aer Lingus Teoranta is registered as an airline. Aer Lingus, the phonetic English pronunciation of Aer-Loingeas (Gaelic for Air Fleet) was formed in April 1936. Beginning capital was £100,000 (≈ £5 million today) and the fledgling company awaited government investing through a parent company. Aer Lingus was partnered with Blackpool and West Coast Air Services who funded the first aircraft as well as operated the airline under the common title, “Irish Sea Airways.” Five days after registration, on May 27, the first service began between Baldonnel Airfield in Dublin, Ireland and Whitchurch in Bristol, England.
Aer Lingus began with one plane, a six-seater De Havilland 84 Dragon biplane. It was named Iolar, Gaelic for Eagle. Before the end of the year, a second plane – this time a De Havilland 86 Express – was added. The second plane, a four-engine behemoth, carried 14 passengers and was named Éire. Service was now available between Dublin and London, by extending the Bristol run to Croydon. Service between Dublin and Liverpool also began. By the following year, Aer Rianta, now called the Dublin Airport Authority, was formed and the airline became wholly owned by the government that same year.
Slow, steady growth continued until World War II interrupted. On November 9, 1945 regular services resumed with a flight to London, now flying mostly Douglas DC-3s painted silver and green. It was at this point that flight attendants were first employed. The first transatlantic service began on April 28, 1958 with service from Shannon to New York City. Conversion to jets began in 1965 and the same year, the paint on the planes began to incorporate a large green shamrock on the fin.
The Aer Lingus fleet today is comprised 46 aircraft with 11 planes on order. They have three Airbus A321s, each seating 193; along with 31 Airbus A320, seating 174 each; and seven long-haul airbus A330 aircraft of two varieties. They also have two A319 planes seating 144. Continually improving service, by 2009, 82% of fights were “on time” with 97% of them within 60 minutes of scheduled time. Figures were lower in winter months, when weather conditions can affect timeliness. Aer Lingus flies to 80 destinations and they hope you “Enjoy Your Flight.”
The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? It is the same the angels breathe. – Mark Twain
There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. – Orson Welles
The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension. A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one. – Wendell Willkie
Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death. – Alexander Chase
Also on this day:
Now We Can Play Solitaire – In 1990 Windows 3.0 is released.
Howe’s That? – In 1842, Howe Caverns were discovered.
SS Savannah – In 1819, the SS Savannah set sail for the first transatlantic steamship crossing.