Aer Lingus, UAL Team On Route

Jan 23, 2009

Aer Lingus and United Airlines have unveiled an arrangement that will see the Irish carrier operate a nonstop service from the U.S. airline’s Washington Dulles hub to Madrid, while United will handle the route’s revenue management.

The service is scheduled to begin in March 2010 and goes on sale this April. The two carriers in a joint press release also signaled that more routes between North America and Europe are expected to be added in 2011.

“This partnership will capitalize on the growth opportunities presented by the open-skies agreement between the European Union and the United States by opening new transatlantic nonstop services,” said the companies.

Both airlines also note that their relationship could broaden into a deeper joint venture.

“It is intended that both carriers will equally share the commercial and operating benefits and risk, with Aer Lingus managing the operational aspects of the new partnership services and United Airlines taking responsibility for managing revenue generation,” they added.

The Madrid flight will be served by Aer Lingus Airbus A330-200s configured for the airline’s standard 269-seat, two-class cabin, which includes 24 business-class seats. The flight to Madrid will carry both airlines’ designator codes.

Aer Lingus and United began code sharing between Ireland and the U.S. in October 2008.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of extensive discussions between the partners since 2007,” said Aer Lingus CEO Dermot Mannion in the Jan. 22 release. “Aer Lingus has been providing long-haul services for over 50 years and was the first airline to commence new transatlantic services under open skies.

“We are very excited by the potential of the partnership and believe that the unique combination of two leading transatlantic airlines can drive significant value for the shareholders of both companies.”

Added United Chairman, President and CEO Glenn Tilton, “Our expanded agreement takes advantage of new opportunities under the U.S.-EU open-skies agreement, benefiting our customers with additional competition and capacity in these markets. This partnership provides for a deeper commercial relationship with Aer Lingus, and capitalizes on the unique strengths of both our companies.”

Photo: Annette Santiago

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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