DUBLIN, March 4 (Reuters) - Ryanair and IAG’s Aer Lingus have signed a co-operation agreement to offer connecting flights on each other’s services, the Aer Lingus CEO was quoted as saying on Sunday.
In a first for Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget airline will feed passengers from some of its European routes onto its Irish rival’s transatlantic services, while Aer Lingus will connect onto Ryanair services to various European destinations.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary had long been opposed to selling journeys involving connecting flights but the company started trials on Ryanair-only connections last year.
“We will trial it in the marketplace. If it’s successful, we will live with the problems of success. If not, we will learn the lessons and move on,” Aer Lingus Chief Executive Stephen Kavanagh told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.
Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs last week said that the company hoped to start operating connecting flights with Aer Lingus this year.
The Sunday Times said the service will be packaged by a third-party intermediary that will also offer passengers connection insurance to cover missed onward flights.
The risk of having to compensate passengers for missed connections was one of Ryanair’s main reasons for shunning the idea of offering feeder flights for long-haul routes.
The Irish airline last year ended talks with Norwegian Air Shuttle on a similar arrangement.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by David Goodman