Thursday 22 February 2018

US surge will offset hit from sterling - Aer Lingus boss

Cabin crew Tracy Johannson, Aer Lingus ceo Stephen Kavanagh and cabin crew Laura McCabe at the Skytrax announcement. Photo: Maxwells
Cabin crew Tracy Johannson, Aer Lingus ceo Stephen Kavanagh and cabin crew Laura McCabe at the Skytrax announcement. Photo: Maxwells
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Any impact on Aer Lingus passenger numbers from the UK into Ireland as a result of the weakening in sterling will be offset by greater demand between the US and Britain, chief executive Stephen Kavanagh has said.

Mr Kavanagh told the Irish Independent that the vote in the UK to pull out of the European Union presents both opportunities and threats for the carrier.

The value of sterling has plummeted in the wake of the so-called Brexit vote, making it more expensive for UK-based travellers to visit Ireland.

However, Mr Kavanagh said the currency changes and the competitiveness of the dollar versus sterling will also help create demand.

"We will have the ability to backfill some of those seats [vacated by the weakness in sterling versus the euro] by bringing more guests between the US and UK," Mr Kavanagh said.

"For the US, the currency changes and the competitiveness of the dollar versus sterling creates demand and we're very, very confident that we can leverage that demand and grow more services, feeding through Dublin on to our UK services."

"As London may become more difficult from a connecting perspective, we will have deeper links into continental Europe, and we will start to drive more traffic between continental Europe and North America through Dublin."

It comes as David Joyce, the chief executive of General Electric subsidiary GE Aviation, said Brexit will not be "cataclysmic".

"We will all adapt to the change," he told Bloomberg.

"I don't think it's cataclysmic. At the end of the day there will be stability, and there'll be good trade between the UK, EU and other trading partners around the world.

In the days after the vote on June 23, Willie Walsh, the head of IAG, which owns Aer Lingus, said he had no plans to cut jobs or move assets away from the UK.

The airline chief, who had backed the 'remain' camp, also touched on the prospect that the weaker pound would make the UK a more attractive prospect in terms of tourism.

Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh also said he would be making an announcement within the coming weeks concerning the carrier's transatlantic network.

He also said talks between Aer Lingus and rival Ryanair about the latter feeding into Aer Lingus' long haul network should also come to a conclusion in the coming weeks.

Mr Kavanagh was speaking at an event in Dublin Airport to mark the carrier securing four stars from Skytrax, which rates airports and airlines in terms of quality and service.

Aer Lingus is the first Irish airline to receive the rating, and joins 40 other airlines in that category worldwide, including British Airways and Air France.

But Mr Kavanagh stressed that it wouldn't mean prices would go up.

"It's a deliberate position but it is not the case that we will be putting prices up, in fact we will be putting prices down because we want more people to experience our four star hospitality," he said.

Irish Independent

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