Ryanair set to feed Aer Lingus and Norwegian flights from the autumn
Ryanair will start feeding passengers to Aer Lingus and Norwegian flights from September, according to chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs.
Launching Ryanair's latest 'Always Getting Better' plan in London yesterday, Mr Jacobs said that the airline also plans to sign deals with additional carriers in the future.
He said Ryanair eventually expects to work with all IAG-owned airlines, which apart from Aer Lingus also include Iberia, British Airways and Vueling. He said Ryanair also expects to eventually have agreements with carriers such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.
The autumn launch is later than previously anticipated and Ryanair has been talking about sealing agreements with other carriers for some time. Chief executive Michael O'Leary has also held talks with embattled Alitalia about how it might feed its long-haul network.
Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh said last year that he anticipated some kind of passenger-sharing deal would be in operation with Ryanair by this summer.
However, the logistics and technical aspects of the agreements with Aer Lingus and Norwegian are likely to have delayed their roll-outs.
Ryanair is also finally getting around to starting its interlining service for its own passengers this month, according to Mr Jacobs. Last year, the airline planned to trial the service at London Stansted and Barcelona.
The interlining service enables passengers to connect, along with their luggage, from one Ryanair flight to another, without having to go through security a second time. That service will be deployed initially at Rome's Fiumicino airport from the end of this month.
Using a new function, customers will be able to search Ryanair's website for indirect flights from one destination to another.
Currently they have had to search themselves for the connecting flights, and also transfer their own luggage from one flight to another and re-enter security screening at the connecting airport.
"We'll start with Rome Fiumicino and then we're going to have more and more bases, and eventually all bases, so you that you can self-connect on Ryanair," said Mr Jacobs. "It's going to be a big deal. It's a big deal for any low-cost airline.
"We are going to do exactly the same thing with other airlines. We'll do it with one or two partner airlines this year; I expect that to be from sometime in September onwards.
"We've talked about Aer Lingus and we've talked about Norwegian.
"These are the first two partners that we're doing this with, and then we would do it with other partners. This would be on both long-haul and short-haul flights and on sale on the website."
Mr O'Leary has previously said that one of the issues in such an arrangement for Ryanair is that it does not want to be responsible for passengers' bags if they've lost them with a connecting airline, for instance.
Mr Jacobs said that the agreements are a "big new aspect to low cost working with legacy carriers" and he said Ryanair also wants to start selling third-party flights on its website, and even cruise ship tickets from such operators.
Meanwhile, a unit of Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air has agreed a sale and leaseback for eight aircraft. It sold them to German Operating Aircraft Leasing & Co for net proceeds of $62.7m.