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The agreement could be with Virgin Atlantic to run its recently announced route between Heathrow and Scotland, but may be short-lived if a Delta acquisition is indeed in Virgin’s future.
Aer Lingus Group Plc will add short-haul flights next year as part a tie-up through which the Dublin-based carrier will provide services for another airline, Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller said in an interview.
“We are one of the three carriers in Europe making money on short-haul and that has been observed and now people are asking us whether we can operate on their behalf,” Mueller said today.
The accord will commence in March with the summer schedule and could involve a joint venture similar to one that Aer Lingus had for three years with United Airlines, under which the Irish carrier operated Washington to Madrid flights, the CEO said.
Details of the deal will be announced in the next 24 hours, Mueller said, declining to identify the partner carrier.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said Nov. 19 that in the coming two weeks it would identity the airline that had agreed to provide Airbus SAS A320 planes and crews to provide flights on its behalf from Scotland to London’s Heathrow airport. Virgin didn’t respond to calls left after office hours asking whether it had struck a deal with Aer Lingus, which operates A320s.
Mueller said that Aer Lingus will separately double up its daily service to Boston and Chicago during the summer.
The CEO said he has “no doubt” that a takeover bid from Irish rival Ryanair Holdings Plc will be blocked by European Union regulators unless further concessions are offered, adding that Aer Lingus shareholders should reject the offer even if it wins antitrust approval.
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