Business Irish

Saturday 24 February 2018

Shannon and Cork back IAG potential to grow routes

Aer Lingus cabin crew prepare to board a flight at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Mark Condren
Aer Lingus cabin crew prepare to board a flight at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Mark Condren
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Shannon and Cork Airports believe an IAG-owned Aer Lingus will have the global muscle to offer new routes and services.

Both airports have backed the Government's decision to support the revised IAG bid for the State carrier which now includes firm guarantees on critical Heathrow landing 'slots' operated from Shannon and Cork.

IAG has promised that the 'slots', estimated to be worth €400m, will remain untouched for seven years and stressed that their intention is to grow Aer Lingus business from Dublin, Shannon and Cork rather than reduce it.

IAG boss Willie Walsh has also moved to ease concerns by insisting that the existing Aer Lingus management and route strategies will remain in place.

Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said the IAG network offers enormous potential for Ireland.

"Cork Airport will look to build on the excellent track record (of) feeding business into the wider IAG network via Aer Lingus' daily flights from Cork to Heathrow.

"Should the acquisition be completed, we look forward to working closely with Aer Lingus and its new owners to further expand IAG's offering in the region, be that with Aer Lingus, British Airways, BA City Flyer, Vueling or Iberia."

"With Aer Lingus likely to join the OneWorld alliance following the completion of an acquisition by IAG, consumers would be able to book seamless connecting services to and from Cork Airport to a host of new destinations," he said.

Critically, Cork will work to see if IAG will consider long-haul or even transatlantic services, both of which the south-west region lacks.

The airport is now working to grow passenger numbers.

Shannon Airport chairperson, Rose Hynes, said the IAG potential is enormous.

"It is good news. It is a positive opportunity and will open the door for further growth from Shannon in the future," she said.

Key elements for Shannon were the guarantee over the Heathrow 'slots' which the airport lost back in 2007 only to regain them in 2009 as well as transatlantic services.

Shannon warned that the maintenance of transatlantic services from the mid-west was a 'red line' issue given their enormous economic and employment importance.

Irish Independent

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