Emerald Airlines names Keith Butler as CEO

EMERALD Airlines, the operator of the Aer Lingus Regional franchise, has named Keith Butler as chief executive officer. He’ll assume the role in March.

e succeeds Emerald Airlines founder Conor McCarthy, who’ll move to an executive chairman role. Mr McCarthy is also executive chairman at Dublin Aerospace, the aircraft maintenance firm he established.

Mr Butler is currently the managing director of CAE Parc Aviation, a role he held since 2018. The firm provides aviation recruitment and technical aircraft support services.

Prior to that, he held various senior roles at Aer Lingus. His positions there included chief planning officer and chief commercial officer. He was also group commercial director at Eason, and had another stint at Aer Lingus before moving into that role, again holding a number of senior positions at the airline.

Emerald Airlines said that Mr Butler was heavily involved in the Aer Lingus transatlantic business model that saw the now IAG-owned airline develop a hub at Dublin Airport. Emerald Airlines plans to transit more than 250,000 passengers through that hub this year.

Emerald will fly more than 580 flights a week next summer over 25 routes from Dublin Airport and Belfast City Airport.

“Keith brings unmatched experience and expertise to our business and has a proven track record as an established leader within the industry – exactly what is needed to propel Emerald Airlines to its next stage of growth,” said Mr McCarthy.

“With Keith’s background in commercial, planning, and strategy, alongside his capabilities in driving growth and innovation, he is extremely well positioned to lead the next chapter in the evolution of Emerald Airlines,” he added.

Mr McCarthy will spend more time developing strategic opportunities in the sector and work closely with Emerald’s partner airlines in IAG, particularly Aer Lingus and British Airways.

Mr Butler said he will work closely with the Emerald Airlines team to “drive the business forward, increasing routes, passenger numbers, and profitability”.

Emerald Airlines has a number of high-profile investors from the aviation sector. They include John Higgins, the former chief commercial officer of jet leasing firm Avolon; former Airbus executive Christopher Buckley; and Jane O’Callaghan, the chief commercial officer at Dublin-based lessor AMCK.

Emerald inked a 10-year agreement in 2021 to operate the Aer Lingus Regional service on a franchise basis. It inaugurated flights last year.

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