Aer Lingus cleared for extra flights to the US and Canada
Aer Lingus has been given the go-ahead by its owner IAG to order planes for extra flights to new and existing destinations in the US and Canada, Willie Walsh has revealed.
The chief executive of IAG said its board gave the green light to Aer Lingus for further transatlantic expansion after a presentation yesterday by the Irish airline's new CEO Sean Doyle.
IAG owns British Airways, Iberia and low-cost transatlantic brand Level, as well as Aer Lingus.
The bulk of new Aer Lingus routes are likely to be from Dublin, an increasingly busy hub channelling UK and European travellers to the US while avoiding Heathrow, Mr Walsh said.
The new planes are likely to be delivered between 2021 and 2023 and will be in addition to eight Airbus A321 LR jets already on order, he said.
In the European market, he said he had seen no evidence of Brexit affecting bookings or traveller behaviour.
IAG was "very comfortable" with its own Brexit preparations, he added.
Meanwhile, the aviation veteran says the industry will "learn the lessons" of two crashes of Boeing's 737 Max aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.
The crashes were "clearly a major tragedy" - but the aviation sector will respond.
"The industry will learn the lessons," he said, after announcing financial results for the first three months of this year.
None of IAG's airlines use the Boeing 737 Max. Aer Lingus uses planes made by Airbus, although BA uses some Boeing models.
Mr Walsh was a pilot before becoming head of Aer Lingus and later IAG.
He said he had flown a simulation of Boeing's 737 Max last week, including updated safety features, and was confident the planes are safe.
"I would have no hesitation getting on board a 737 Max when it comes back into service," he said.
He thinks that will happen later this year.