After travelling halfway around the globe, a pair of nimble ATR 72 turboprop aircraft previously flown by Virgin Australia will help launch Ireland's new Emerald Airlines.
The Dublin-based startup is set to take over the routes of the former Aer Lingus Regional franchise by October, and plans for the two 68-seat all-economy planes to be joined by a dozen more by the end of the year.
Emerald's regional routes will spear out from Dublin, Belfast and Cork, and in addition to these short domestic hops the airline expects to contribute some 200,000 passengers a year to Aer Lingus' transatlantic network out of Dublin once air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Virgin Australia launched its regional ATR 72 services in 2011 in partnership with Perth-based Skywest on routes such as Sydney-Canberra, Sydney-Port Macquarie and Brisbane-Port Macquarie, and at its peak counted 14 of the turboprops in its fleet.
However, the airline began to cull those aircraft in 2017 as part of a broader push to streamline its fleet and rein in costs, eventually returning all ATR 72s to their respective leasing firms in September 2020 while in administration.