Ireland’s two largest airlines have agreed to a historic deal to connect short and long-haul routes out of the country’s capital, Dublin. Flag-carrier Aer Lingus and eminent low-cost carrier Ryanair signed the cooperation agreement that will allow easier connection for customers looking to explore Europe and beyond.
It’s a particularly unusual move for Ryanair, whose CEO Michael O’Leary has long resisted the idea of such connection deals with other airlines in favor of expanding the carrier’s routes across Europe. A similar deal was discussed last year with Norwegian Air, but talks concluded without a deal being agreed.
Simply put, this agreement will allow Ryanair to connect customers to some its Irish rival’s long-haul routes. Conversely, Aer Lingus’ long-haul customers will be able to connect through its base at Dublin Airport (DUB) to a number of short-haul services not normally offered by the airline.
Aer Lingus’ long-haul routes to North America are well established, with a fleet of A330s and 757s operating from DUB to Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Toronto. New routes to Philadelphia and Vancouver begin this year.
Aer Lingus Chief Executive Stephen Kavanagh, announcing the deal on Sunday, indicated a pragmatic view of the deal, saying: “We will trial it in the marketplace. If it’s successful, we will live with the problems of success. If not, we will learn the lessons and move on.”
However, Declan Kearney, communications director for Aer Lingus was distinctly more upbeat in tone while speaking to the Irish Independent newspaper, declaring: “It has the possibility to be a win-win. Due to the positioning of Ireland, connecting short-haul to short-haul wouldn’t make much sense.
“The idea is to connect short-haul to long-haul. Ryanair flies to places in Eastern Europe where we don’t.”
As part of the agreement, customers of each airline will be able to book connecting flights through either Aer Lingus’ or Ryanair’s website. Work is currently ongoing to synchronize each airline’s booking system to ensure a smooth transition for passengers and make sure the agreement doesn’t fall at the I.T stage.
And though no specific dates or routes have been set, it is hoped the service will be available for customers to begin booking later this year.