DUBLIN, Ireland – The chief executive of Aer Lingus’s US partner said today it was not interested in acquiring all or part of the Irish airline.
Aer Lingus this week moved into US carrier JetBlue’s terminal in New York’s JFK’s airport, strengthening a partnership that allows passengers to travel between a range of US and Irish destinations via New York and Boston by connecting with both carriers’ services.
JetBlue has several times been suggested as a suitor for Aer Lingus, and the Irish carrier’s management last year raised the possibility that the US partner would buy the State’s 25 per cent stake when it is put up for sale.
However, JetBlue’s chief executive David Barger today said his company is not going to buy into its Irish partner. “I do not really think that it’s a proper use of our shareholders’ capital,” he said.
Mr Barger, who was speaking following a discussion on airline alliances at the Capa Centre for Aviation conference in the Ritz Carlton in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, added that the pair’s existing relationship has strong potential for growth.
He pointed out that Aer Lingus could fly to more US gateways, opening up the possibility of further connections with JetBlue services, or open a direct US-Cork service.
During the conference, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group – parent of British Airways and Iberia – said national government fears that airline closures and consolidation could result in the loss of services are unfounded.
He said that recent evidence – from the failures of Malev in Hungary and Spanair in Spain – shows that if the demand is there, other carriers will very quickly fill it.
Mr Walsh, whose group is currently bidding for ownership of Barcelona-based Vueling Airlines, said that alliances such as Oneworld, of which IAG is a member, were a “poor substitute” for consolidation, and described existing political restrictions on ownership in the industry as “ridiculous”.
Meanwhile, extra services between Dublin and the US, Canada and Europe will boost the number of seats on flights to and from the Republic’s busiest airport by 700,000 this summer.
The Dublin Airport Authority, whose chief executive, Kevin Toland, addressed the conference, announced today that carriers including Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Cityjet and Ryanair will operate eight new services from the airport.
Etihad Airways is also increasing capacity on its flights between the airport and the Middle East and there will be extra flights on almost 30 existing routes.
The DAA said that overall summer capacity will be up 4 per cent this year, a total of 700,000 seats.
The company’s chief operations officer Robert Hilliard described the increase in seat availability as “significant”.