The United States Department of Transportation has granted Aer Lingus final approval to join the oneworld transatlantic joint venture current with American Airlines, British Airways, OpenSkies, Iberia, and Finnair. The approval comes as the Irish airline seeks to launch a UK subsidiary for transatlantic flights.
The flight corridor between Europe and North America is a lucrative one for airlines. Airlines are always looking for the best ways to serve as many passengers as possible on flights across the pond. This includes launching new routes, adding frequencies, and codeshare agreements.
Approval to join the joint venture
Today, the United States Department of Transportation issued its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint venture. The DOT said that it expects the approval to increase capacity on some routes while also adding new ways, allowing more travel options from Ireland and Europe to the United States.
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The joint venture was initially approved in 2010, including American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair. At the time, the DOT believed that its approval would increase competitiveness on transatlantic flights, bringing ‘substantial benefits’ to passengers and those shipping freight.
An Aer Lingus spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“Aer Lingus welcomes the decision by the US Department of Transportation to grant antitrust immunity to enable us to join the transatlantic joint business between American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair… Aer Lingus’ customers will also obtain access to more than 200 new US destinations via the AJB network.”
According to British Airways, the joint venture allows it to connect over 160 cities in Europe with over 240 cities in the US. Aer Lingus is not a part of the oneworld alliance, having left the group in March 2007. However, it is part of the International Airlines Group, including JV members Iberia and British Airways. In February 2019, then IAG chief Willie Walsh commented that Aer Lingus could rejoin the alliance in the future.
Comments from Delta and JetBlue
Both JetBlue and Delta submitted comments during the period that the DOT was open to comments on the venture. Both of the US-based airlines commented on slot availability at London Heathrow Airport. JetBlue asked the DOT to make the slot rules applying to the joint venture explicit.
The airline asked for four pairs of Heathrow slots to be made available for competing carriers. Earlier this year, JetBlue failed to secure slots for Heathrow. Instead, it got slots at Gatwick and Stansted.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines also replied during the DOT’s comment period addressing JetBlue’s comments. The airline said that existing agreements mean that there is no substantial independence between JetBlue and American Airlines. As a result, it should not be eligible to receive any Heathrow slots opened up due to the joint venture.
Aer Lingus’ UK plans
Earlier in the month, Aer Lingus filed for approval to launch flights from Manchester to Boston, New York, and Orlando. The flights would be operated by a new subsidiary airline called Aer Lingus UK. Aer Lingus is planning to register two Airbus A330-300s on the United Kingdom’s aircraft registry. The airline would compete against Virgin Atlantic who has had the routes to themselves since Thomas Cook’s collapse.
What do you make of the joint venture approval? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!