Aer Lingus is in advanced talks with all three airline alliances to rejoin one of the groups, with Oneworld set to be a firm favorite. The Irish carrier has stepped up negotiations with Oneworld, led by British Airways, as well as continuing discussions with Star Alliance and Skyteam.
Aer Lingus effectively brings the whole of the Irish market with it, making it an attractive proposition for all three alliances.
However, the negotiations are complicated by the airline’s existing codeshare agreements with various carriers with different alliance affiliation. Aer Lingus codeshares with BA (Oneworld) on Irish flights into London Heathrow, KLM (Skyteam) on Dutch services and with United (Star Alliance) to North America, including the new service between the U.S. and Madrid. Ultimately though, any successful negotiations will be based on the fares on offer to Aer Lingus passengers through other alliance carriers.
Christopher Mueller, chief executive of Aer Lingus, has said, “Oneworld, say, might be the best alliance on paper, from the connectivity we gain and cost synergies, but if we have to pay more for a seat to Melbourne or Hong Kong than I currently pay with KLM I can be a member of an alliance until the cows come home: my Irish customers will book themselves on KLM.”
Aer Lingus was previously a member of Oneworld but pulled out in 2006 as it said the revenue benefits weren’t sufficient. The decision to rejoin an alliance comes after Mueller abandoned the efforts at running a low cost operation and stopped trying to copy no-frills leader Ryanair, saying that offering uneconomical fares was unsustainable in the long term.
(Photo credit: Air Lingus)