While the rest of Europe’s airlines are grounded, waiting for March 2008 to take advantage of the EU-US agreement to liberalise the transatlantic airline market, the Irish flag carrier is in full flight. Under an agreement negotiated with the US authorities, the airline has created its own open skies environment between Ireland and America a full year before its competitors.
By opening new routes, dropping out of the oneworld alliance and creating a link with JetBlue, the low-cost US carrier, Aer Lingus has a model for operating in a liberalised transatlantic environment that will be looked at, and possibly copied, by its European peers.
Given the relatively short head start Aer Lingus has over its European competitors it is perhaps no surprise that the company announced new routes to three US cities within an hour of the EU-US open skies agreement being ratified in March. Services to Washington Dulles will start in September, with San Francisco and Orlando being introduced in October.