Aer Lingus, which is part of IAG that also owns British Airways/Iberia/Vueling/Level, was quoted on Sunday saying that the airlines had signed a deal with Ryanair where the airlines would offer connecting service between each other’s flights.
Ryanair would feed Aer Lingus transatlantic flights and and Aer Lingus would in turn provide passengers to Rynair’s European network.
Reuters quoting the Sunday Times points out that this is not typical interline agreement because there is third party taking the risk (access the piece here):
The Sunday Times said the service will be packaged by a third-party intermediary that will also offer passengers connection insurance to cover missed onward flights.
The risk of having to compensate passengers for missed connections was one of Ryanair’s main reasons for shunning the idea of offering feeder flights for long-haul routes.
When you have several airlines on the same ticket and checked luggage, there are minimum connecting times involved that are airport, airlines and terminal specific.
It is unclear if the passengers are in reality sold two separate tickets and are required to claim any possible checked bags and recheck them. This would take considerable time rather than having them checked through.
It also implies that this third party is taking all the risk having to rebook the affected passenger in case of delays that lead to missed connection. Who then pays for possible EC 261/2004 claims, hotels and meals? This can get really expensive really fast if the airlines haven’t thought this out well.
Ryanair according to RTE may provide similar service to other airlines in the future (access their piece here):
“I would hope that at some stage next summer, you will see us feeding Aer Lingus’ transatlantic flights out of Dublin, and once we’ve done it once, I think we will provide a significant feed to lots of long-haul airlines,” O’Leary told a news conference in Brussels.
O’Leary said there were still some issues to be resolved for the deal to go into force with Aer Lingus, especially finding a solution to using different reservation systems.
Many European and other airlines that provide long-haul flights are battling with non-profitable short-haul ones that are needed to feed the network. Traditionally, LCCs have not been keen of providing feeder services due to interline agreement requirements that can be expensive and heavy from the operational point of view.
Ryanair used to be one of the major owners of Aer Lingus before IAG came to picture and bought it. Interesting that IAG would allow their Irish subsidiary to team up with Ryanair that is today the biggest airline in Europe.