Ireland’s parliament has voted to approve the sale of the government’s 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus to British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG), removing the main obstacle to the sale and setting the stage for a shakeup of transatlantic travel.
But at least it sounds like those big green planes will be around for a while.
Although Aer Lingus is not a member of any of the three big global airline alliances, it does have a code-sharing partnership with United, and MileagePlus members can earn miles for travel on many Aer Lingus flights. The Irish carrier also has a close partnership with JetBlue that permits single-ticketing on interline connections via New York and Boston.
But the acquisition of Aer Lingus by IAG would likely mean that the Irish airline would join up with the Oneworld alliance — which includes British Airways, American, Iberia and others — and could even lead to the inclusion of Aer Lingus in the AA/BA transatlantic joint venture.
Aer Lingus currently flies from Ireland to New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco and Toronto.
Irish media reports say that the acquisition is likely to mean four new transatlantic routes for Aer Lingus, although they don’t identify them. IAG has also reportedly agreed to preserve the Aer Lingus brand; to guarantee Aer Lingus’ slots at London Heathrow for five years; and to preserve its routes between Heathrow and Dublin, Cork and Shannon for seven years.
Besides British Airways, the International Airlines Group’s other subsidiaries include Iberia and Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling. To finish the Aer Lingus acquisition, IAG will still have to negotiate the purchase of Ryanair’s 29 percent stake in the airline, but that low-cost carrier — which has itself unsuccessfully bid for the Irish carrier — is said to be willing to divest.
An interesting historical note: Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG and former head of British Airways, started his career at Aer Lingus as a pilot and later became its CEO.
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