Earlier this month the Aer Lingus website began offering what it describes as “cheap holidays – holiday deals” under the banner of “The Complete Holiday Solution with Aer Lingus”. This comprises online booking of sun holidays, city breaks, escorted holidays and cruise holidays from ClickandGo.com and TheTravelDepartment.ie. The ClickandGo.com section claims as one reason to book: “25% cheaper than charter tour operators”.
On Monday the Irish Tour Operators Federation responded by asking Aer Lingus to withdraw the ‘25% cheaper’ claim immediately. Chief Executive Flan Clune told Irish Travel Trade News: “This claim is inaccurate, misleading and untrue. We are also concerned at this new development overall and regard it as inappropriate that Aer Lingus should tie up with any one particular operator. The airline had no discussions with ITOF or its members before adding these holidays to its website. We are awaiting a response from Aer Lingus.”
Needless to say, some tour operators and travel agents are viewing this development with weary eyes and see it as a return of the days when Aer Lingus was in direct competition with them through Aer Lingus Holidays. Then in May 1990, in a decisive ministerial move, the Minister for Tourism and Transport, Seamus Brennan TD, instructed the Board of Aer Lingus to take immediate action to close down its tour operating subsidiary at the end of that year.