Ireland now has 16 licensed carriers, only three of which, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and CityJet, operate international scheduled services. The bulk of their operations are within the European Economic Area (EEA) with only Aer Lingus operating to the US.
There have been major regulatory changes associated with the liberalisation of international air transport in recent years. As part of this liberalisation process, the role of Governments in controlling and regulating air transport has been progressively reduced.
Within the EEA carriers are licensed in accordance with common rules and all such carriers are free to provide air services on any international route in the EEA without Government approval, provided slots are available at airports.