Aer Lingus is set to call time on its business flyer 'Gold Circle Club'
Aer Lingus is calling an end to one of the country's best-loved loyalty schemes - its Gold Circle Club frequent-flyer programme.
The airline is preparing to reveal a new expanded scheme, called the 'Aer Club', in a matter of weeks.
It will be a distinct Aer Lingus programme, as opposed to an IAG plan However, it is expected to provide more redemption opportunities with IAG's other airlines and partners through a new common currency.
"We - independently, but supported by IAG - will be seeking to move beyond Gold Circle to a new programme which will be announced in the early part of next month.
"It will have the benefit of a currency which can be shared across a number of airlines and will also have enhanced benefits of recognition and reward and loyalty for members," Aer Lingus chief commercial officer Mike Rutter said in an exclusive interview in today's Sunday Independent.
"It will include a bigger opportunity to spend and redeem points with other airlines but it will still absolutely be an Aer Lingus plan, with a proper Aer Lingus name and a sense of modernity."
The carrier has implemented a brand revamp in recent months through its 'Smart Flies' advertising campaign, alongside a €20m investment in its website and online booking system.
It recently announced new short-haul routes and in the next two weeks will reveal new long-haul routes. Its business-class service has also been upgraded.
Davy aviation analyst Stephen Furlong said Aer Lingus was expanding strongly under IAG - but added that the challenge posed to it by Ryanair should not be underestimated.
"Innovation at Aer Lingus has been very strong under IAG. But Ryanair Labs is coming out with new products almost daily.
"While Aer Lingus's new website is excellent, Ryanair is about to launch its own new website, that will no doubt be very impressive."
He added: "Continued expansion in Dublin is very central to Ryanair's plans. The competition for Irish passengers remains tight."
Sunday Indo Business