Thursday, January 22, 2009

United and Aer Lingus get closer

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.


  1. JetBlue and Aer Lingus have a partnership, but no codesharing. All they do is offer to check bags through and issue a single ticket, but they don't put their codes on each others' flights.

    And I agree that the unions are unlikely to take this one too well. Then again, customer service hasn't been on the top of their priority list for a while so will anyone notice?

  2. Fair enough, may not be a true codeshare in the literal GDS display sense but the optics to a customer booking online (single ticket, baggage transfer, single booking website) mimic that of a codeshare.

    Agree - neither EI nor UA are exactly standouts in customer service!!!!

  3. The single booking website only applies to the Aer Lingus website. Folks who book via JetBlue have no such option.

    Through bag check and multiple carriers booking on a single ticket are great, but hardly innovative. Other carriers have been doing it for years.

  4. Yes, clearly through bag check and multi-carrier ticketing has been around almost since the dawn of commercial aviation - but it is unusual for a low cost carrier to play these games. Southwest and Icelandair did it years ago at BWI and we all remember Southwest and ATA. Southwest is gearing up with partners north and south now - clearly more is on the way.