Irish budget airline Ryanair is in talks about feeding passengers to IAG, Virigin Atlantic Airways, Norwegian Air Shuttle and TAP.
The discussions are about Ryanair using its short haul network to connect to long-haul flights with the other airlines.
The move is a major change for how Europe’s largest low-cost carrier operates.
Ryanair has avoided the interlining market due to the turnaround times the carrier required for its network and other complexities like baggage and passenger transfers.
Possible connections could be:
- Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick
- Norwegian at Gatwick
- Aer Lingus at Dublin
- Iberia at Madrid
Virgin Atlantic operates long-haul flights from Gatwick to multiple destinations in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York (JFK) and Orlando.
Connections with IAG could be at Madrid for Iberia flights to a huge number of airports in Central America, South America, North America and the Caribbean.
It is also possible that IAG could add long-haul flights from Stansted, which is the largest base for Ryanair. IAG does not operate from Stansted so that would be some time away.
A quicker implementation of any deal would be with Aer Lingus at Dublin.
Currently Ryanair owns 30% of Aer Lingus but has agreed to sell that stake to IAG.
That deal is not yet finalised, but Ryanair said it could begin providing transfer traffic for Aer Linus before the end of this year.
One major attraction of buying Aer Lingus is that passengers heading for the USA clear US Immigration and Customs in Ireland before the flight leaves.
That is likely to be used by IAG as a big selling point for passengers going to the USA from Scotland and the North of England who can enjoy that feature and avoid transferring at Heathrow.
Ryanair currently flies between Dublin and ten UK airports outside of London.
N.B. Image credit: ryanair.com