Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh believes that his company and and Ryanair could agree a deal on passenger transfers by next year.
The pair have been in talks for some time on the possiblity of an agreement that would see Ryanair feeding passengers from its European services into the Aer Lingus network.
Mr Kavanagh confirmed on Tuesday that it was his ambition to see passengers transferring between both airlines in 2017 but stressed several times that any agreement would have to benefit Aer Lingus commercially.
He argued that it was a logical extension of Aer Lingus efforts to grow its transatlantic business to take some passengers from Ryanair’s European network.
As an example, he pointed out that while his company only flies to Warsaw, Ryanair serves a number of regional centres in Poland.
"It's very difficult to get from those places to, for example, Chicago, " he said. "Plugging together our operation with Ryanair adds convenience and adds choice, and it will be something else for the European consumer to consider. So there are real opportunities."
Mr Kavanagh suggested that both airlines, more generally known for being bitter rivals, could end up with links to each others’ websites as a result of any agreement.
Aer Lingus will begin flights to Miami next year as well as boosting existing transatlantic services and and adding new Europea cities to its summer schedule.
The Irish carrier, bought by International Airlines Group (IAG) last year, will have the capacity to carry up to 2.5 million on transatlantic services in 2017 and will add 100,000 seats to its European network.
Aer Lingus will fly three-times-a-week e from Dublin to Miami, Florida from next September. It will fly daily from Dublin to LA, and twice a-day to Chicago, in the peak season, as well as increasing frequencies to Orlando.
The airline will launch flights to Porto in Portugal and Split in Croatia and increase either seats or frequencies to a number of other popular sun destinations.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus confirmed that it was IAG’s most profitable unit in terms of the return it delivered on investment.
Its net margin during the three months ended September 30th, traditionally the airline’s strongest quarter, was 29.7 per cent. Its return on invested capital over the last four quarters was 20.6 per cent.
Aer Lingus took delivery of three new craft this year and will receive a fourth next year as it continues to expand its services.
Mr Kavanagh said that he was not worried by the news that the US is considering other European airports, including Edinburgh, for customs and immigration pre-clearance.
Dublin and Shannon are the only EU airports to have these facilities. They are considered a competitive advantage because passengers who have been through them save time once they land in the US.
Mr Kavanagh noted that any airports likely to get pre-clearance did not share Dublin’s other advantages. However, he added that he was not complacent about it either.