Thursday 18 January 2018

IAG boss Walsh - new Dublin runway is 'inevitable'

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh

Paul O'Donoghue

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh is in favour of the construction of a second runway at Dublin airport, saying it is currently at full capacity during peak hours, leading to "congestion and delays".

Mr Walsh also said he was open to an agreement with Ryanair that would see it feed passengers to the Aer Lingus long-haul network. He said an agreement could be reached by summer 2016.

Mr Walsh was speaking following the publication of IAG's results for the nine-month period to the end of September.

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) acquired Aer Lingus in September in a €1.36bn deal.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Walsh said that Dublin Airport needed more capacity to cope with demand during peak hours.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is re-examining its proposals for a second runway as passenger numbers have risen to more than 21 million in 2014 and that figure that is expected to increase by a further 15pc this year.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has also said that a new runway will probably be needed to cope with the predicted increase in demand.

Mr Walsh said: "There is space at times during the day but the airport is full during peak hours, which leads to delays and congestion.

"We would be very much in favour of it (a second runway), we think it is inevitable.

"The operators are all in favour of the extra infrastructure as long as it is cost-effective.

"We would also encourage the airport to look at utilising existing facilities as much as possible."

Mr Walsh is also amenable working with Ryanair to bolster Aer Lingus's long-haul network. The two airlines are in talks over an interlining arrangement that would see Ryanair providing transfer connections for its rival's long-haul services.

The IAG boss said: "Customers are flying with them (Ryanair) anyway and if our customers are flying with Ryanair we want to connect them to airlines in our group. Reaching a sensible commercial arrangement will do that.

"I think there is scope to do work between Ryanair and Aer Lingus if commercial terms can be agreed. We do arrangements on a seasonal basis, (so) we could put something in place in April, (then) there is no reason an arrangement could not be put in place for next summer."

He also said that IAG was keen to continue Aer Lingus's long-haul expansion. Earlier this month, it announced three new US routes from Dublin, to Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford, Connecticut that will run from next year. This means it will now be flying to 12 destinations in North America.

Mr Walsh said that Aer Lingus would continue to add routes in North America, with a focus on the US.

"We would be thinking of about one or two a year, which reflects the strength of the Aer Lingus performance. We would be thinking of the US initially [and] would look at markets that would have a strong Irish diaspora. We would also look at Canada, which has a large Irish diaspora."

IAG raised its 2015 profit outlook after third-quarter results beat expectations. The firm said full-year operating profit, excluding Aer Lingus, would come in between €2.25bn and €2.3bn, having previously forecast it at more than €2.2bn.

Aer Lingus made an operating profit of €45m since it joined the group in September. Total group operating profit was €1.2bn for the third quarter ,excluding the Irish airline.

IAG was formed from the merger of British Airways and Iberia in 2011 and is the world's sixth-largest airline.

Irish Independent

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