Aer Lingus is to buy luxury seats for its long-haul Business Class services from Portadown-based Thompson Aero Seating in a multi-million pound deal.
The airline’s chief executive Christoph Mueller made the announcement in Belfast.
“This represents a significant investment for Aer Lingus and we are delighted to award the contract to a Northern Ireland-based manufacturer following an extensive competitive tender process,” he said. “Our commitment to our Belfast base at George Best Belfast City Airport, our customers and the local economy has never been greater.
“This purchase of luxury seating is part of an upgrading of our Business Class on our long-haul flights and it’s great to be working with a local company and helping them grow.
“The Thompson ‘Vantage’ seat converts to a flat bed and allows us to make the most of our Business Class cabin as they will all be forward facing and 90% of them will have direct access to the aisle. We know how customers don’t like to disturb fellow passengers by having to step over them.
“There will be four different types of seats in the cabin and the audio-visual and computer related technology that goes with them will provide customers with a virtual office if they so choose or a wonderful personal entertainment centre.”
The deal involves the purchase of 189 seats for all seven A330 aircraft, with the first seats to be delivered in December this year and all in service by the end of March 2015. They will be available on all transatlantic flights from Dublin Airport, including the new route to San Francisco announced last month.
“Our direct long-haul schedule is proving incredibly popular and passenger numbers remain consistently high,” added Christoph. “Furthermore our code shares with United and Jet Blue give Aer Lingus customers superb and extensive access to the USA and beyond.”
Gary Montgomery, Chief Executive of Thompson Aero Seating, said: “This award-winning seat has been designed, engineered and produced by our highly skilled workforce in Portadown. We are delighted that Aer Lingus has selected this seat as it represents a major contract that helps secure jobs and the continued growth of our company.”
Thompson Aero Seating isn’t the only business across Ireland to benefit from the deal. The inflight entertainment system is produced by Inflight Dublin and the fabrics and carpets used in the Business Class cabin are designed and manufactured by Botany Weaving in Dublin.
Aer Lingus operates from George Best Belfast City Airport providing six flights a day to London and is the only airline operating in Northern Ireland serving both Heathrow and Gatwick. It also flies from Belfast City to Malaga, Faro and Palma.