Category: Archive

It’s jet green as AL and JB reach deal

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The deal will link both airlines’ websites and enable passengers to make a single Internet booking to and from Ireland and over 40 U.S. destinations.
Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse in New York are among the new airports covered by the deal, as are Denver in Colorado, Burlington in Vermont, Fort Lauderdale in Florida, Las Vegas Nevada, New Orleans, San Diego and Seattle.
Aer Lingus already flies directly into New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Orlando, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Under the deal, passengers flying to or from Ireland will connect at JetBlue’s hub at John F Kennedy Airport in New York, and then fly onward, without having to check-in luggage again.
“This is totally new. It’s electronically linking two carriers,” said JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger.
“With a strong customer base, brand strength and position in the U.S. market, JetBlue is a natural partner for Aer Lingus. We are proud to be pioneering the model of linking low-fare networks and offering Aer Lingus customers the ability to easily connect across the U.S. through JetBlue’s Terminal six at JFK,” said Aer Lingus chief executive Dermot Mannion.
“The partnership will also expose millions of U.S. passengers to the Aer Lingus website and brand and further consolidate aerlingus.com as the premier way to book flights to Ireland from North America,” he added.
The deal will enable customers book through flights to their chosen U.S. destination via the Aer Lingus website aerlingus.com. U.S. passengers making reservations through the JetBlue website will be transferred with one click to the Aer Lingus website to complete their booking to the Emerald Isle.
Aer Lingus is keen to exploit the Open Skies deal by offering more trans-Atlantic services itself, but this tie-up gives them a quick way of exploiting the growing demand for travel between Ireland and the U.S.
JetBlue was keen to partner with another low-cost carrier. Aer Lingus is now operating as a low-cost airline, following its bitter rival Ryanair, and is the only European low-cost operator flying trans-Atlantic. The deal was also made easier by similarities in the booking technology used by both airlines.
Both airlines use web-based systems for the vast bulk of their reservations, while other airlines use more elaborate computer-reservation systems.
Instead of developing a new scale of fares for the flights to between the new destinations as some other airlines have done for shared flight routes, Aer Lingus and JetBlue will merely add the cost of the two flights as if they were booked separately.
“The accounting of this is a cinch,” said Aer Lingus corporate affairs director Enda Corneille.
The Irish airline has made a strong success of the Internet, where the majority of its flights are now booked. Low-cost travel and ease of booking has enabled the Internet help boost passenger numbers.
While Aer Lingus has been around since 1936, JetBlue was founded only in 1999, not long before the chaos in aviation markets following 9/11.
The deal had been under discussion for some time, and Aer Lingus announced last year it had plans along the lines announced.
Just days after the announcement however, JetBlue’s operations were severely disrupted by severe weather and ice storms in the north east U.S. which buffeted the airline’s reputation.
German airline giant Lufthansa spent $300M buying 19 percent of the American carrier in December which will have provided much-needed cash to JetBlue. This is close to the maximum 25 percent stake allowed to foreign companies in U.S. airlines under federal law.
The low-cost element in the tie-up with Aer Lingus and completion of detailed negotiations already with the Irish airline was likely to have been a factor in announcing the move, irrespective of the deal with Lufthansa, which was informed of the plan in advance.
JetBlue said the deal would not interfere with any future plans with the German airline.
Both JetBlue and Aer Lingus hope to expand the new arrangement to include both JetBlue’s flights to the Caribbean, and Aer Lingus’s extensive network of flights to Europe.
The Irish airline has introduced a wide range of new destinations particularly in eastern and central Europe to meet growing demand from Irish leisure travelers, but also to meet significant demand from the hundreds of thousands of immigrant Europeans now living in Ireland following enlargement of the European Union in 2004.
It has also expanded its routes to other European destinations in response to the rapid expansion of Ryanair, which is now Europe’s largest low-cost airline.

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