Aer Lingus knows all about the ups and downs of the airline business. Only a few years ago, the airline was flying across the Atlantic on two wings and a financial prayer. All has changed utterly. This week, the airline will place before Ireland’s minister for public enterprise, Mary O’Rourke, its choice of a wedding partner, both on the ground and at 30,000 feet.
Entry to an alliance of other national flag carriers and major airlines should, in theory, allow Aer Lingus to sustain a healthy rate of growth while offering the paying passenger quality service at a reasonable price. That’s the bright side theory. Those who take a more cautionary view of the airline industry sometimes see alliances as great monopolies that serve and sustain themselves at the expense of the discriminating customer.
Back on the bright side, there is an argument to the effect that once in an alliance, each airline has to keep its end up for the good of the whole. After all, passengers will now be fed from one alliance carrier to the next and will be able to make immediate comparisons. One thing is clear and that is the expansion of Aer Lingus’ reach into new corners of the U.S. is a positive development, one that only enhances the flow of people and commerce.
That expansion takes its next big step in a few weeks with the inauguration of a service from Los Angeles to Ireland. A direct connection with the West Coast should have been in place years ago. An Aer Lingus connection to San Francisco should also be considered for the near future. After all, San Francisco’s status as an Irish American center goes back to before the Wright brothers. Other North American destinations such as Washington, D.C., and Toronto may well follow in the years ahead. And of course an alliance with a major U.S. carrier will provide Aer Lingus at least indirect access to dozens of other U.S. cities. One way or another, the sky is looking blue for Aer Lingus as the century turns. Blue with a hint of green.