Monday 24 October 2016

Ryanair passengers could soon earn BA air miles thanks to EC quirk

Published 23/07/2015 | 02:30

Passengers of Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair could benefit from IAG takeover of Aer Lingus
Passengers of Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair could benefit from IAG takeover of Aer Lingus

Passengers who fly with Ryanair could soon be able to clock up frequent flyer air miles that they'll be able to use to jet off around the world - with British Airways.

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It's a quirk of a concession that IAG has offered the European Commission (EC) to enable its €1.36bn takeover of Aer Lingus to go ahead.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said the airline intends to bid for five take-off and landing slots at London's Gatwick airport that must be relinquished by BA owner IAG in order for its Aer Lingus acquisition to proceed.

The European Commission has published details of how the slot reallocation would work.

It has insisted that any airline that secures control of any of the five slots that are being surrendered by IAG must be allowed access to IAG's frequent flyer programme, which is called Avios, if the new entrant does not already have a frequent flyer programme of its own.

Ryanair doesn't have such a programme.

But the points on IAG's frequent flyer programme would only be clocked up by a rival airlines' passengers on services using one of the five Gatwick slots that will be relinquished. Two of the five Gatwick slots have to be used to operate services between London and Dublin. One has to be used to fly between London and Belfast. The remaining two can be used to serve either city from London.

The European Commission said IAG must treat the new operators of the five slots on the same terms as other airlines in the Oneworld alliance in relation to the accrual and redemption of air miles.

It raises the prospect of Ryanair passengers being able to redeem Avios air miles when flying on some services between Gatwick and Dublin, and Belfast - if it's successful in securing the slots.

IAG's frequent flyer programme allows passengers on British Airways and Iberia, which is also part of IAG, to clock up air miles using either airlines' services. Last year, UK regional airline Flybe became the first non-IAG carrier join the Avios scheme.

Those air miles can then be redeemed to avail of upgrades, free flights, lounge access and other travel-related bonuses for services such as car hire and hotel rooms.

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