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Earn BA tier points on (some) Aer Lingus flights as it joins the BA/AA JV – and launches Manchester?

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The US Department of Transport has tentatively approved the Aer Lingus application to join the British Airways and American Airlines transatlantic joint venture. Iberia and Finnair are also part of the agreement.

A fourteen day window is now open for responses, after which a formal approval is likely to be granted. Approval by the European Commission is expected to follow shortly.

This means that all five airlines will be able to co-ordinate scheduling and pricing on flights between Europe and the US.

Aer Lingus A321LR

In such a joint venture, all revenues are pooled and re-distributed based on an internally agreed formula. When you buy a flight to New York on British Airways, part of your fare goes to Iberia, American Airlines, Finnair and now Aer Lingus.

According to the US DOT, Aer Lingus currently has a 44% market share of flights between Ireland and the US. The joint venture will now have a 60% share as the American Airlines services to Ireland will be included.

There is, however, strong competition (given the size of the domestic Irish market) from other carriers. This is expected to increase now that the new generation of single aisle aircraft have the range to fly from Ireland to the US East Coast.

Aer Lingus crew

This is good news for those of us in the UK. As part of the joint venture, transatlantic Aer Lingus flights will now give full Avios and tier points even if other Aer Lingus flights do not. Aer Lingus flights previously did not earn British Airways Executive Club tier points so this is a big improvement.

Will Aer Lingus launch Manchester services?

The approval of the joint venture makes the rumours that Aer Lingus will launch US flights from a UK regional airport more likely.

In September, the Irish Times reported that six UK airports including Manchester and Edinburgh had submitted bids for the flights, which would likely use Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft. These aircraft can fly non-stop between Ireland, the UK and the Eastern seaboard of the United States and feature 16 fully flat business class seats.

It seems that Manchester has won the deal with Aer Lingus applying for 1,500 take-off and landing slots for the April to October season. The request covers 3 x A321LR aircraft (single aisle) and one two-aisle A330, which would be enough to cover four US routes. The A330 can reach the US West Coast whilst the A321LR can only reach the East Coast.

This would put Aer Lingus in direct competition with Virgin Atlantic at a time when Virgin was hoping for a clear run following the demise of Thomas Cook.

Aer Lingus never intended to launch routes from the UK. However, coronavirus has meant that it now has a large fleet of new aircraft with little sign of enough domestic demand to fill them.

Whilst the BA/AA transatlantic joint venture was due for renewal this year, an extension has been granted until 2024 due to disruption caused by the pandemic. The 2024 review will now have to also consider whether the addition of Aer Lingus has reduced competition even further.

It will still take some time for the new joint venture agreement to come into effect, so don’t expect to be earning BA tier points from Aer Lingus transatlantic flights until well into 2021.

Comments (48)

  • Jonathan says:

    Another nail in the coffin for incredibly unique BA1 and BA2 flights I guess!

    Some have described it as feeling more a private jet experience than flying with a commercial airline

      • Jonathan says:

        BA1 stopped over in Shannon airport, for refuelling and US Customs and Border checks, I’m not entirely sure where has it, but I think there’s more pre-clearance before getting on a plane to the US in Ireland than there is here in the UK

        If only Heathrow had this, it’d speed up getting through airports so much quicker……..

        • Rhys says:

          Yes, that’s in Shannon.

        • Nick_C says:

          Ireland is the only Country in Europe that offers pre clearance for the USA. It made a lot of sense when more flights stopped at Shannon to refuel.

          “CBP has more than 600 officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 16 Preclearance locations in 6 countries: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg in Canada.”

          Pre clearance was a PITA when I flew back from Toronto to London via Boston with AA some years ago. Queued for about 90 minutes for pre clearance at Toronto. The Immigration Officer asked me how long I would be spending in the US, to which my reply was “just over an hour”. Pre clearance in the UK would be great. Proper transit arrangements in the US would be even better!

          Difficult to see how pre clearance would work at Heathrow, unless all US flights were to leave from the same terminal, which would require better air side transfers. Maybe if LHR built terminal 5D for US flights, and extended the T5 transit to T3 and T2 it could work.

          • Rhys says:

            Belgium is the next country to get preclearance for the US

          • Lady London says:

            Brussels got it.
            Which was a bit of a slap in the face for the UK.

            Could have been the US pandering to the EC Parliament members based there I guess.

  • Polly says:

    EI better get less precious out their lounge access too. Only allowing dub lhr pax into their dub lounge. V restricted access. And it really isn’t anything better to write home about either, their lounge. The DAA one is streets ahead.

  • Fenny says:

    Is there any advantage here to taking up the offer from Aer Lingus for double tier points on their new routes up to 31 Jan?

  • Linda says:

    Going to eastern USA and ORD (excluding those airports served by VA) via Dublin from MAN has always been a better option than via LHR , because of the immigration clearance thing . Will there be a stopover in Ireland like the BA1 thing ?

  • Tom says:

    A big plus for flying from DUB to the US, as well as pre-clear, is the lack of UK passenger tax. But ex-Manchester flights will carry the full whack for that.

  • Malcaster says:

    How can an EU airline (EI) have flights from the UK to the US? Is it some kind of 5th freedom thing, ie the flights routing will be DUB-MAN-JFK?

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