Aer Lingus in talks with Qatar Airways on Doha flights
Deal could see Dublin flights connecting with Gulf giant’s Asian network
Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
The Irish airline, purchased by IAG in September, could serve the route itself or code-share on prospective Qatar Airways flights between the two locations, chief executive Stephen Kavanagh said in a briefing.
Qatar said in November it was examining the case for Dublin operations.
A pact between the carriers, which Mr Kavanagh said is “only a matter of time”, would boost competition with Dubai-based Emirates, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi and Turkish Airlines, which all already offer direct links with Dublin.
Aer Lingus’s own long-haul network has so far been focused on trans-Atlantic routes to the US.
“We will connect into the Qatar hub either on our metal or Qatar metal,” Mr Kavanagh said in the briefing prior to the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting, which is being held in Dublin. “It’s certainly an opportunity to plug into the geographic advantage that Qatar has.”
Qatar Air last month boosted its stake in IAG, formed via a merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia, to 15 per cent, and said it would be interested in investing further.
Aer Lingus also plans to expand its US network in 2017, according to Mr Kavanagh, providing more flights to what he called “poorer” airports. The carrier commences services to Hartford, Connecticut, starting in September, and IAG chief executive Willie Walsh has said it’s being courted by other smaller bases.