Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, is introducing a “bare bones” transatlantic fare as it fights off growing competition on the North Atlantic run, notably from long-haul, low-cost carriers.

The new Saver fare will cut €40 ($47) from Aer Lingus’s standard Smart one-way transatlantic fare. Like basic economy fares introduced by US carriers, it comes with restrictions, with passengers having to pay for features such as advance seat selection, blankets, headphones and checked baggage.

The new fare, which will take effect Oct. 1, “is very much part of the move of the market to a situation where certain niches are interested in price only, or are very price-sensitive,” Aer Lingus spokesman Declan Kearney said. Saver fare passengers will still receive onboard meals, a 10kg (2.2 lb.) cabin bag allowance and access to the aircraft’s IFE system. Anyone buying a blanket (€5) or headphones (€3) can take them with them when they leave the aircraft.

Kearney said there had been some misunderstandings over the fare, notably among the UK press, which had assumed that charging for such items applied to all passengers. “It’s not. It’s aimed at those who want to travel light and are very focused on price.

“Our aim is that it may be incremental business for us. It will attract people who may not have previously flown with Aer Lingus.”

Like other legacy carriers, Aer Lingus is coming under increasing pressure on lucrative North Atlantic routes from new arrivals such as Norwegian and Iceland’s WOW Air. Aer Lingus operates a portfolio of routes to US and Canadian destinations, taking advantage of the large Irish diaspora in those countries.

The new fare “has been received positively … it seems to be relevant to some of the market,” Kearney said. The new fare will only be available on point-to-point routes between Ireland and the US/Canada. It will not, for example, be available for UK passengers connecting through Ireland en route to North America, unless they buy two separate tickets from their departure airport to Dublin, then a Saver fare from the Irish capital to their North American destination.

Alan Dron