Aer Lingus Could Operate Own Doha Flights to Link With Qatar Airby
Irish carrier plans cooperation with parent IAG’s top investor
Pact would help fend off Emirates, Turkish Air challenge
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 U.S.
“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 percent, and said it would be interested in investing further.
Aer Lingus also plans to expand its U.S. 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.