Ryanair in talks with IAG on being a feeder for long-haul flights
Ryanair is in talks with International Airlines Group and Aer Lingus and Portugal's TAP about providing feeder flights to rivals' long-haul services for the first time, chief executive Michael O'Leary has said.
The move is a major departure for the Irish airline, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, which has traditionally shunned transfer passengers due to the costs involved.
Under the possible deal, customers would buy their tickets from Aer Lingus, who would take all responsibility for transferring baggage and dealing with any missed connections, he said.
"We are in active discussions with Aer Lingus here in Dublin, with IAG in the UK and TAP in Portugal," Mr O'Leary said.
“The advantage for them is they would get much cheaper short-haul feed than they would from anybody else, but what they have to get themselves mentally over is that they would have to take responsibility for missed connections.”
Connecting passengers will be a “reasonably small part” of Ryanair’s business, Mr O’Leary said, but low-cost carriers could feed up to 50 per cent of passengers to long-haul carriers flying from Europe within five to 10 years.
Under the proposed system, customers would buy their tickets from the long-haul carrier, who would be responsible for checking in the customer, handling their bags and taking responsibility for any missed connections.
The cost of compensating people for missed connections is one of the reasons Ryanair has avoided the business in the past.
Ryanair would, however, offer to fly passengers on later flights if the initial Ryanair connection was missed.
Ryanair has not yet finalised an agreement with Aer Lingus, but Mr O’Leary said it could begin providing feeder traffic for its Irish rivals before the end of the year.
“I see no reason why it couldn’t happen this winter, November,” he said.
Aer Lingus is set to become part of IAG later this year once Ryanair formally signs off on the sale of its 30 per cent stake in the Irish carrier.