Ryanair Holdings Plc said it’s in talks about providing feeder traffic to IAG SA, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Portugal’s TAP in a move that would mark a major shift from its previous strategy.
Ryanair’s short-haul services would link up with long-haul flights operating from the hubs of partner airlines, spokesman Robin Kiely said Tuesday, confirming comments made by Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary to Reuters in Dublin Monday.
O’Leary has previously eschewed ties to other carriers, suggesting they’d be incompatible with the quick turnaround times central to the low-cost model. Ryanair’s shift to higher frequencies, more flights to primary airports and timings that appeal to business passengers mean that’s less of a concern.
One possible focus for cooperation would be with IAG at London Stansted, Ryanair’s biggest base, O’Leary said, suggesting that the U.K. group’s British Airways arm may be looking at adding long-haul flights at the low-cost hub. IAG said it hasn’t had any formal discussions on the issue.
Other links could be with North American services operated from Dublin by Aer Lingus Group Plc, which IAG is in the process of buying after securing stakes held by Ryanair and the Irish government. Ryanair could also link up with South American flights offered by TAP SGPS SA from Lisbon, O’Leary said, according to the Reuters report.
Dublin-based Ryanair is also exploring the possibility of feeding Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and Norwegian Air Shuttle long-haul operations at London Gatwick.
Cooperation could begin on some routes as early as the coming winter timetable, according to Ryanair. Long-haul partners would be responsible for baggage transfer and dealing with missed connections.
Ryanair last month posted a 25 percent gain in fiscal first-quarter earnings and said that full-year numbers should be toward the top end of forecasts, while cautioning that over-capacity could weigh on average fares this winter.