Ryanair looking at making connections

Michael O’Leary believes five airlines will ultimately dominate European aviation: Ryanair, EasyJet, IAG, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa

Michael O’Leary: said Ryanair is in talks with Aer Lingus and its soon-to-be-owner International Consolidated Airlines’ Group. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Michael O’Leary: said Ryanair is in talks with Aer Lingus and its soon-to-be-owner International Consolidated Airlines’ Group. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

 

Ryanair could strike a deal that will see it feed passengers to long-haul flights operated by old rival Aer Lingus as early as this winter.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary confirmed this week the airline is in talks with Aer Lingus and its soon-to-be-owner International Consolidated Airlines’ Group (IAG) about providing transfer connections to long-haul services. It is also looking at similar deals with the likes of Virgin and Norwegian. While both O’Leary and chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs have over the last year said the Irish airline is open to such arrangements with other European players, this is the first time it has made a substantial move in that direction.

O’Leary also said it would not be a large part of its business, but any such agreement would be significant in the sense that Ryanair has shunned them in the past because of the costs and risks involved.

One of the risks is the compensation payable to passengers in cases of delayed flights and missed connections. Ryanair is not willing to take this on, and O’Leary said its potential partners would have to take responsibility for this. The tenor of his remarks indicate that this has yet to be hammered out.

However, there are some clues as to how it might operate. Passengers would buy their flights from one of the global distributors, such as Amadeus, with which Ryanair recently signed an deal, not from the airline’s website. They would receive one ticket, issued by the long-haul carrier, for both legs. That indicates that the contract for the entire journey, and thus the associated liabilities, would be with the long-haul carrier.

O’Leary believes five airlines will ultimately dominate European aviation: Ryanair, EasyJet, IAG, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa. The legacy players will focus on long-haul, opening opportunities for the low-cost fliers to feed passengers.

O’Leary thinks that now is the time for Ryanair to start cashing in on that.

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