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Airline boss claims Ethiopian is disrupting hub plans


Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh. Photo: Mark Condren

Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh. Photo: Mark Condren

Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh. Photo: Mark Condren

The chief executive of Aer Lingus has lashed out against Ethiopian Airways, claiming the African airline will be hogging valuable space at Dublin Airport that could be used for other carriers.

Ethiopian Airways will launch a service between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles next month. The flight stops off in Dublin en-route, to embark and disembark passengers.

The airline will also start using Dublin to fuel some of its westbound US flights from Addis Ababa.

But Stephen Kavanagh told Aer Lingus investors that while he welcomes competition, he's concerned that the airline is consuming airport resources without offering much in return.

"The real issue is the ramp space at Dublin Airport that it (Ethiopian) is consuming," said the chief executive. The ramp, or apron, at an airport is the area where aircraft are parked and loaded and unloaded.

"We are working hard to build Dublin into an efficient hub, and ramp space and gate positions that are proximate for flowing customers conveniently to the facility are a scarce resource. That's the headache that Ethiopian have currently given all of us base carriers at Dublin Airport," he said. The chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, Kevin Toland, has dismissed Mr Kavanagh's claims.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Toland said that when Ethiopian Airways starts refuelling flights at Dublin it will not be using a stand at the airport as its aircraft will be refuelled in another area.

"We've got to look after all of our customers and all of our opportunities," he said. "We've got to make sure we've got the capacity and the infrastructure to do the best job for all of them."

He conceded that the busier the airport gets, the more challenging it is to deal with the extra traffic. Ethiopian Airways commences its Addis Ababa-Dublin-Los Angeles route on June 19. It will pick up and disembark passengers in Dublin on both legs of the route.

The airline's country manager for Ireland, Michael Yohannes, recently said that Ethiopian has been happy with the number of bookings it has attracted out of Dublin.

The Dublin-Los Angeles route is also one of a number of new US routes Aer Lingus is pondering for next year.

If it's successful in its €1.36bn bid for Aer Lingus, IAG wants to significantly expand its long-haul services out of Dublin.

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