Some airlines have ordered new aircraft and operated them only briefly due to changing operational needs and financial problems. Aer Lingus and the 767-300 are one such example who utilised the type only briefly and never for its original intended purpose. Considering the airline subsequently re-equipped with the competing Airbus A330 the 767-300 in full Aer Lingus colours is a great example of what might have been.
Aer Lingus had based its small long-haul fleet around the Boeing 747-100 ever since 1970 and the trio of aircraft operated primarily to the US East Coast, always via Shannon as Irish law demanded. Towards the end of the 1980s however Aer Lingus had fresh plans for new long-haul service to Los Angeles on the US West Coast that the 747s didn't have the range for.
Aer Lingus gained the traffic rights for the Los Angeles route but refused to operate the service via Shannon. It wanted to fly direct from Dublin and ordered a pair of brand new Boeing 767-300s to be leased from Guinness Peat Aviation for the service. Unfortunately there was no resolution to the dispute, which was a serious political hot potato, and the Los Angeles service never eventuated. This left Aer Lingus with a pair of 767-300s it had no use for and could ill afford as at this time the airline had mounting debts.
The first aircraft, EI-CAL St Aidan, was the only one of the pair to wear full Aer Lingus colours, albeit only for a short period. It arrived in March 1991 and seems to have mainly been used to service London Heathrow. Within 3 months EI-CAL had been leased to Aeromexico and didn't return until October 1992 when she was sub-leased almost immediately to Air Aruba.
The 2nd 767 went straight to Aeromexico in December 91 and joined Aer Lingus only in February 1993 as EI-CAM. It gained the Aer Lingus tail colours but no fuselage scheme and appears to have been barely used. Wearing hybrid Air Aruba colours EI-CAL was seen at points as far apart as New York and Salzburg during the short period following its return from lease in July 1993 and disposal.
By 1993 Aer Lingus found itself on the brink of insolvency and the cost of the 767s was no doubt a factor, albeit a minor one. Both 767s would return to their lessor in February 1994 and join TWA. Somewhat ironically in 1993 the 50:50 rule was introduced whereby nonstop flights from Dublin could commence as long as they were matched by a route from Shannon. Aer Lingus would receive new A330s to finally replace the 747s in April 1994 bringing the curtain down on its 767 operations until 2015 when the first of a pair of Omni Air International 767-200s would be leased.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: