Sunday 23 September 2018

Aer Lingus eyes T2 buy as relations with DAA sour over infrastructure

Aer Lingus would like to own or be an anchor tenant in T2
Aer Lingus would like to own or be an anchor tenant in T2
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Relations between Aer Lingus and airport operator DAA have "soured immensely" as a result of differences over infrastructure development at Dublin Airport, according to the airline's chief operating officer, Mike Rutter.

"It would be fair to say that relationships with Dublin Airport have soured immensely in the last 12 months, when it became apparent that the ambition that we have, and that its major shareholder has, to prosecute an agenda of growth at Dublin has not yet been matched," said Mr Rutter.

He also refused to rule out the possibility that Aer Lingus would be interested in buying T2 at Dublin Airport if the terminal was ever put up for sale by the DAA, the semi-State body which controls Dublin and Cork airports. The DAA is highly unlikely to do so, however.

"Aer Lingus would like to prosecute owning, in the sense of being the anchor tenant, or owning Terminal 2 and being the key player in that marketplace, as opposed to what happens today: every time a new player comes in, Aer Lingus gets squeezed," said Mr Rutter.

Aer Lingus is owned by IAG, which also owns British Airways, as well as Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling. Mr Rutter said that Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh has already had a "constructive" first meeting with new DAA CEO Dalton Philips and is meeting him again soon. "As you can imagine, the list of improvements ... around taxiway improvements, stand improvements, to be able to prosecute our model, are very much on the agenda."

A DAA spokesman said: "Dublin Airport is currently investing about €100m per year to upgrade its facilities and we will shortly present proposals for an enhanced an investment programme to our airline customers for consultation."

He added: "Dublin Airport is managed in the best interests of the Irish economy to grow connectivity and to meet the needs of all of its airline customers rather than just one."

Aer Lingus will take delivery of eight A321LR long-range aircraft between 2019 and 2020 that will be used to bolster its transatlantic network. That will see Aer Lingus add 700 jobs.

Aer Lingus announced yesterday that it will launch a new service between Dublin and Philadelphia next March. The airline will operate record transatlantic capacity next year, with 2.75 million seats, compared to 2.5 million this year.

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