Rivals Aer Lingus and Ryanair could agree a passenger sharing deal “within the year”, according to one of the low-cost carrier’s executives.
The pair have been in talks since last year about the possibility of Ryanair feeding passengers from its network to Aer Lingus’s long-haul flights.
An agreement would allow customers to fly the European leg of their journey with Ryanair and the long-haul element with Aer Lingus on one ticket.
On Wednesday, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said that it was likely the two would agree a deal within the year.
He also confirmed that the Irish airline was close to doing a similar deal with Norwegian Air International, which has plans to launch low-cost flights to the US and far east from Europe.
He added that those talks were closer to a conclusion than the negotiations with Aer Lingus.
However, Mr Jacobs stressed that these agreements would only form a small part of Ryanair’s business.
Addressing the Phocuswright Europe travel technology conference in Dublin he said: “they will only ever be the glazing on the cherry on the icing on the cake,” he said.
In a discussion with Phocuswright managing director, Tony D’Astolfo, Mr Jacobs also criticised tech giant, Google, which the airline is suing along with online travel agent, Edreams.
It is seeking damages from Edreams and Google, through which the online travel agent advertises, for infringement of its trademarks and intellectual property rights.
Ryanair says that Edreams is selling the airline’s flights on the travel agent’s website without the Irish company’s permission, and that it charges those consumers who buy those flights hidden fees. Edreams denies this.
Edreams advertises on Google, which means that a link to its website comes up whenever somebody searches for Ryanair.
Mr Jacobs told the conference that Ryanair raised the matter several times with Google before going the legal route, but the multi-national did not tackle the problem.
“Google needs to do a better job if they are to live up to their own standards,” he said. He pointed out that a German court had already ruled in the airline’s favour in a similar case. Google did not comment yesterday.
Both the US company and Edreams are defending the case, which Mr Justice Brian McGovern entered into to the High Court’s commercial list late last year.
Ryanair flew 106 million passengers on its network in the 12 months ended March 31st, its last financial year, and expects to increase this number in the current year.