Aer Lingus to quit Oneworld

1 Jun 2006 by business traveller

Aer Lingus says it will quit the Oneworld alliance (whose main members include British Airways, American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas) early next year.The Dublin-based airline says it’s no longer the same airline it was since joining Oneworld six years ago. In recent times, Aer Lingus has repositioned itself as a low fare point-to-point carrier developing more direct international routes from Ireland.

Says a Oneworld spokesperson, “Aer Lingus’ current business plan is no longer consistent with Oneworld’s strategy which is to focus on connecting premium international traffic.”

It’s also believed the Irish airline wasn’t happy at having to spend a small fortune on its IT systems so that they could “talk” to three soon-to-arrive Oneworld members (Hungary’s Malev, Royal Jordanian and Japan Airlines) when these airlines would not be a big source of connecting passengers for Aer Lingus. Says one airline analyst, “There was a cash cost to this and the Oneworld issue has brought matters to a head.”

State-owned Aer Lingus has a number of routes between Ireland and the UK. In particular its three main routes into Heathrow from Dublin, Cork and Shannon feed passengers onto the networks of Oneworld carriers like BA, American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

No other Oneworld carrier flies these routes and it’s by no means certain that Aer Lingus will continue to interline its passengers (with Oneworld members) when it leaves the alliance.

Says a spokesperson for Oneworld, “This is one of the issues which we will cover in the bilateral agreements with Aer Lingus. This carrier has confirmed to us that it has no intention of joining another global alliance and its intention is to complete these bilateral agreements before it leaves Oneworld.”

If Aer Lingus decides not to interline with Oneworld in the future then it will hand a strategic advantage to the rival Star Alliance. Star member Bmi flies Dublin-Heathrow and interlines with the likes of United, SAA, SIA, Thai, SAS, Lufthansa and so on. One solution, of course, is for BA to restart a Dublin-Heathrow service.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus’ recently launched three times a week (every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) direct service to Dubai could make Dublin a cost-effective springboard for the Gulf. As with its other routes, Aer Lingus has adopted simple point-to-point pricing for the Dubai routes with return tickets typically priced from £252 (Euros 367) return.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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