Friday, February 16, 2007

Aer Lingus expands its reach

Aer Lingus has been capturing headlines this week, although not the front-page kind. It appears now that the former FSC will stretch its reach and has plans to open its first base outside Ireland. This is a first for a European flag carrier, as far as I know. Both Ryanair and easyJet have country-neutral names and brands so it has been much easier for them to expand throughout the continent. Air Berlin, which leaves nothing to the imagination as to its origins, has been successful with its operations in the south of Europe. This German LCC also opened a base in England in direct response to those UK LCCs intruding on its home turf.

Aer Lingus is reporting that it has narrowed its search down to three bases outside of its home country, which will allow it to open up to 15 new routes. Rumors abound that this is not a one-off for the carrier and that we will likely see more foreign bases open up. With the airline's tie-up with JetBlue, expansion deeper into the European continent will benefit this cooperation. However, this strategic move for the Irish carrier will not come without its struggles as unions have voiced their opposition. It's not that unions are opposed to expansion per se but they have voiced their concerns about the work rules that Aer Lingus intends to apply. In addition, employees will most likely be employed under local rules rather than Irish.

Aviation in Europe is certainly not going to become boring in the next few years.

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