Thursday, January 22, 2009
Today's WSJ is reporting that Aer Lingus and United are pairing up beyond their existing codeshare routes to/from the Emerald Isle to launch a new nonstop route from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Madrid (MAD). The flight will be operated by an Aer Lingus A330 aircraft and crew. Made possible by the recent open skies liberalization accord between the US and the EU, this new flight will be interesting to watch for a number of reasons.
Most efforts by the legacy carriers to expand beyond their current home bases have proved fruitless thus far. Air France gave up their 777 LAX-London Heathrow flights after a short while and OpenSkies from BA is rumored to be having a tough time with their JFK-Paris Orly and Amsterdam flights.
The WSJ notes that Aer Lingus' labor costs are below United's which is probably true - but how will United's notorious unions react to what appears to be a blatant outsourcing from one of United's largest hubs? This isnt like Lufthansa is simply adding another flight from FRA to Dulles that UA is codesharing on - this is flying that could have been operated with UA metal and crews. We applaud UA and EI for thinking out of the box - we just hope its worth the potential pain UA (and UA's passengers) may feel as a result.
And finally, if we needed any more indications that the airline industry suffers from schizophrenia, lets remember that Aer Lingus, in addition to codesharing with UA on flights it operates, codeshares on JetBlue operated flights. And Lufthansa, a key UA partner, owns a good sized chunk of JetBlue.