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IAG Mulls Plans for Dublin Hub

By Steve Wynne-Jones

British Airways owner IAG said it’s evaluating further routes between Dublin and cities in North America following its acquisition of Aer Lingus, and will announce destinations in due course.

US airports are actively courting Aer Lingus to offer flights, a trend that has already resulted in the carrier committing to the introduction of services to Hartford, Connecticut, starting in September, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said in an interview.

Aer Lingus has been performing well since its takeover, and Dublin Airport has scope for expansion into a trans-Atlantic hub complementing BA’s London Heathrow base, where crowded runways make it tough to add flights, provided the Irish facility’s infrastructure gets sufficient investment, Walsh said.

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“I don’t see Dublin competing with Heathrow because the scale of operations will always be significantly smaller, but it has the capacity to grow,” said the chief, himself an Irishman who once ran Aer Lingus. “And Ireland is a very strong market in its own right. It’s not just a case of serving 5 million people on the island of Ireland; it’s serving 40 million Irish Americans.”

Aer Lingus currently operates nine routes to the U.S. and Canada, with a 10th, from Dublin to Los Angeles, scheduled to commence next month, followed by an 11th linking the Irish capital with Newark, New Jersey, both using Airbus Group SE A330 wide-bodies. The Hartford service will use smaller Boeing Co. 757s.

More people are already tapping Aer Lingus’s European connections to fly over Dublin into the existing North American network, Walsh said. The carrier should add 9 percent more capacity this year, making it the fastest-growing IAG business after Spanish discount arm Vueling, with growth spurred predominantly by long-haul demand, he said.

News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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