The head of Aer Lingus, which was recently acquired by British Airways parent company IAG, threw cold water on the notion that the Irish carrier would soon rejoin the Oneworld airline alliance.
Although Aer Lingus is now owned by British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), the Irish flag carrier isn’t planning on joining fellow IAG airlines as a member of the Oneworld alliance. Largely because British Airways and IAG-owned Iberia Airlines are Oneworld partners, Aer Lingus has been widely expected to rejoin the coalition that it decided to depart in 2006. The airline’s chief, however, told industry leaders this week that a reunion with Oneworld is highly unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“We have no plans to join Oneworld,” Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh told members of the European Aviation Conference on Tuesday in comments reported by the Independent. “We still have to do the business case for joining Oneworld.”
Aviation industry analysts have predicted that Aer Lingus would join British Airways and Iberia as a Oneworld Alliance member as soon as next year. Kavanagh’s declaration seems to indicate that any move to rejoin the partnership won’t happen for several years – if at all.
Kavanagh might not be enthusiastic about Oneworld, but the CEO certainly sounded eager for Aer Lingus to become a part of a separate alliance that includes British Airways and American Ailines. He indicated that a partnership that includes America’s largest airline could yield big returns for his rapidly expanding Dublin-based airline.
“We believe that we can bring more choice to the market place and grow in connected businesses without compromising any of our existing businesses or the consumer,” Kavanagh told conference attendees. “We’re about building cost efficiency and capacity.”
While he insists that there are “no plans” to pursue Oneworld membership, the CEO says that the airline is actively looking to join the BA/AA joint venture which includes the rights to code sharing, allows the airlines to book seats on each other’s flights and makes some frequent flyer benefits reciprocal.
Much of the speculation on the FlyerTalk thread on the subject centers around whether flyers should abandon any hope of Aer Lingus ever rejoining Oneworld or as one member pointed out, “I note that there is a difference between ‘no plan’ and ‘no intention.’”
[Image: Aer Lingus]