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Sunday 22 September 2019

Aer Lingus enjoys big bookings boost after Ryanair flights fiasco

IAG chief Willie Walsh
IAG chief Willie Walsh

Kevin Doyle and John Mulligan

Aer Lingus has seen a significant increase in short-haul bookings since Ryanair announced thousands of flight cancellations.

Aer Lingus is also currently looking at recruiting pilots from Monarch Airlines, which ceased trading earlier this week.

"I can absolutely confirm that since the issues that Ryanair have had, that our short-haul sales have benefitted substantially," said Aer Lingus chief operating officer Mike Rutter.

"Our short-haul routes into the UK, into the European leisure destinations, and to the European cities, have seen a significant increase in sales," he added.

Aer Lingus held an open day in Manchester this week and about 50 pilots from Monarch turned up following that airline's collapse.

Mr Rutter also noted that since 2014, Aer Lingus has created 600 full-time jobs. An additional eight aircraft the airline has ordered will come into service between 2019 and 2020 and create another 700 positions at the airline, he said. A total of 1,400 jobs will have been added over a five-year period.

"These are jobs, 99pc of which are in Ireland, which are high quality and we work within the boundaries of the social contract that exists within Ireland," he said.

Meanwhile, airline boss Willie Walsh said he was "s***ing" himself over Ryanair's longer-term response to its pilot rostering fiasco. The head of International Airlines Group told a Fine Gael fundraiser, which raked in up to €20,000 for the party, that the low-cost airline will be harder to compete with in future.

"Their ability to change is unparalleled and their ability to fix things is unparalleled. A lot of people are taking great pleasure out of what's going on.

"Personally, I'm s***ing myself because a reformed Ryanair will be even more difficult to compete against," he said.

Journalists were refused entry to the event, but the Irish Independent obtained a recording of Mr Walsh's speech.

Later Ryanair came under fire at an Oireachtas Committee for the length of time it took to provide information to passengers about cancelled flights and their consumer rights.

Cathy Mannion of the Commission for Aviation Regulation said the body first became aware of the cancellations through social media.

She said "no clear" information was provided to customers about their rights.

She also said the airline probably knew about the cancellations a week in advance.

"There's no legal obligation for Ryanair to tell us in advance but it is definitely in their advantage," she said.

Maurice O'Connor of the Irish Aviation Authority claimed the cancellation of flights was a "completely commercial decision at the discretion of Ryanair".

Irish Independent

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