Aer Lingus has confirmed to its oneworld partners that it intends to leave the alliance but retain bilateral links with a number of the grouping’s key member airlines.The timing and terms for its withdrawal will be considered at the next meeting of the alliance’s Governing Board, but it is likely to be in early 2007, as the three new recruits lining up to join oneworld board the alliance in its biggest expansion to date - Japan Airlines, the largest airline in the Asia-Pacific region; Malev Hungarian and Royal Jordanian.
Aer Lingus’ strategy has changed fundamentally since it joined the alliance six years ago and is no longer convergent with oneworld’s. The alliance’s key target market is the multi-sector, premium, frequent international traveller, while Aer Lingus has repositioned itself as a low fares point-to-point carrier.
The departure of Aer Lingus - currently the smallest airline in oneworld, with 13,765 million of the total 761,794 million available seat kilometres capacity offered in 2005 by its existing members - will come as alliance’s three recruits increase its capacity by more than 20 per cent. Talks are progressing between oneworld and other airlines interested in joining.
Aer Lingus is in discussions with various oneworld members with the aim of retaining strong bilateral links with them, and its intention is to conclude these agreements before its leaves oneworld.
It has confirmed that it has no intention of joining another global alliance and that its key bilateral relationships will remain with oneworld members.
Ireland will remain part of the oneworld network through services operated by the alliance’s other member airlines.