Aer Lingus Could Operate Own Doha Flights to Link With Qatar Air
Aer Lingus said it's in talks with Qatar Airways, the biggest shareholder in its parent company IAG, about commencing flights from Dublin to Doha to connect with the Gulf giant’s Asian network.
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, Stephen Kavanagh, its chief executive officer, said in a briefing Wednesday. Qatar said in November it was examining the case for Dublin operations.
A pact between the carriers, which 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 the Irish capital. 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," Kavanagh said in the briefing prior to the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting, which is being held in the Irish capital. "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 Kavanagh, providing more flights to what he called "poorer" airports. The carrier commences services to Hartford, Connecticut, starting in September, and IAG CEO Walsh has said it’s being courted by other smaller bases.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland