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Aer Lingus to say goodbye Dubai in favour of US

AER Lingus is "reviewing" its flights to Dubai and is likely to axe the Middle East route next summer.

The Dubai route has struggled to establish a foothold in the market since its launch in March 2006 and planes often flew less than half full.

But Aer Lingus commercial director Enda Corneille stressed that the review was not prompted by poor returns.

"Dubai put in a strong performance in the first half of 2007," Mr Corneille said. "But in 2006 there were a limited number of things we could do with our long haul planes, whereas now, because of Open Skies, [an agreement which deregulated fights between Europe and the US] we have lots of options.

"The Dubai route is now competing with possible new US routes, so we'll review it in that context."

Mr Corneille said the airline had not yet decided whether to run the Dubai flights next summer, but sources said Aer Lingus was "very likely" to use the plane for a more lucrative new route to the US.

Mr Corneille also confirmed that Aer Lingus is in talks with four US airlines about possible "tie-ins", similar to the one already agreed with low cost carrier Jet Blue.

The Jet Blue deal will allow passengers to book tickets from Ireland, right through to any of Jet Blue's US destinations, using just one ticket.

Under the partnership, Irish travellers will still have to change planes in New York or Boston, but they'll be able to buy just one ticket for the entire flight.

"The Jet Blue link has been delayed by two months and will now come in October," said Mr Corneille.

"Four carriers in the US are watching it to see how it's going and they want to do a similar link up. We want to bed down Jet Blue first and then, once the technology is there, there's no reason why we couldn't do it elsewhere," he added.

Previous reports suggested Aer Lingus was close to signing a similar deal with regional carrier Aer Arann, but Mr Corneille said this was unlikely in the short term.

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