Aer Lingus and Ryanair set to team up

They're close to reaching a deal on passenger sharing...

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Ryanair's new Boeing 737-800 NG at Dublin Airport | Image: RollingNews.ie

Despite  having an often tenuous relationship in the past, Aer Lingus and Ryanair are close to coming to a passenger-sharing deal.

Willie Walsh, the chief of Aer Lingus' parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), has confirmed that an agreement for Ryanair to feed European passengers into Aer Lingus long-haul flights is imminent.

Talks have been ongoing since last year.

The new arrangement would mean passengers could fly with Ryanair for one leg of their journey, before taking a long-haul Aer Lingus flight on the same ticket.

Walsh said on Thursday that he would be "surprised" if the talks came to nothing, calling the deal "inevitable".
"There were very advanced talks with Aer Lingus at a high level," Walsh said. "I briefly discussed it with Michael [O'Leary], but we had senior people in Aer Lingus discuss it with senior people in Ryanair.
"We've no objection to working with them. If customers want to connect from a Ryanair flight, we're very happy to do that. There were some commercial issues, but I think it's workable".

IAG purchased Aer Lingus for €1.36 billion last year. The company posted a five-fold jump in operating profits for the first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, Ryanair head honcho Michael O'Leary posited that Ryanair would overtake EasyJet as the biggest airline in the UK this year.

He said at a Creative Minds conference in Dublin this week:

"As we open up the new base in Belfast, we're adding more aircraft this winter in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Stansted continues to grow strongly, we should overtake them by the end of this year.

"I don't get too hung up on whether we overtake them or not. It's only a question of time, when we'll overtake them.

"It doesn't really make a lot of difference".