What The IAG Takeover of Aer Lingus Means For Flyers
The Irish government yesterday finally gave in and agreed to sell their 25% ownership of Aer Lingus, Ireland's flag carrier, to the International Airlines Group (IAG). IAG is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and all their respective subsidiaries. The company is one of Europe's three airline superpowers, along with Air France-KLM and the Lufthansa Group. The Irish government had turned down IAG's offers to take over Aer Lingus several times in the past, but as of yesterday decided that selling the airline was in the best interest of the government, customers and Ireland's airline industry. Now, the only thing standing in the way to the deal going through is Ryanair, who also owns a minority stake in Aer Lingus. However, IAG management is confident that Ryanair will accept their offer to purchase the remaining shares. Many people, the Irish government included, were worried that IAG only wanted Aer Lingus so they could get access to additional slots at London-Heathrow (some of the most valuable slots in the world) and that they weren't committed to the airline's long term viability in the competitive European airline market. IAG has eased those concerns by agreeing to keep the airline intact and the takeover of Aer Lingus has far more benefits than negatives.The choice of connecting in an airport other than London-Heathrow is definitely a plus for travelers. Transfers at Heathrow can take hours if you require a terminal change. Dublin is one of the simplest major European airports out there. Also, all of Aer Lingus' slots at Heathrow will continue to be used for Aer Lingus flights to the island of Ireland for at least the next seven years. The Aer Lingus brand will also remain intact and the airline will operate as a completely separate carrier from British Airways and Iberia. One of the best benefits of the takeover to customers is that Aer Lingus will rejoin the OneWorld alliance, of which IAG is a founding member. This will allow frequent flyers to earn and redeem miles across Aer Lingus and the 15 other member airlines (American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc.). Also, the airline will be included in the massive transatlantic joint venture with British Airways, Iberia, Finnair and American Airlines. Aer Lingus already has a decent line-up of transatlantic flights that OneWorld customers will gain access to and IAG has announced that they plan on ramping up transatlantic flying once they take ownership. Current transatlantic services include: -Dublin (DUB) to Boston (BOS) -Dublin (DUB) to Chicago (ORD) -Dublin (DUB) to New York (JFK) -Dublin (DUB) to Orlando (MCO) -Dublin (DUB) to San Francisco (SFO) -Dublin (DUB) to Toronto (YYZ) -Dublin (DUB) to Washington-Dulles (IAD) -Shannon, Ireland (SNN) to Boston (BOS) -Shannon, Ireland (SNN) to New York (JFK) The airline offers connections via Dublin to dozens of destinations within Ireland, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Aer Lingus operates an all Airbus short-haul fleet of about 40 A320 family aircraft and operates 8 Airbus A330s and 3 Boeing 757s on long-haul routes.