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Aer Lingus gets US approval to join the BA / AA / Iberia / Finnair transatlantic joint venture

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The US Department of Transport has now given its final approval to the Aer Lingus application to join the British Airways and American Airlines transatlantic joint venture. Iberia and Finnair are also part of the agreement.

Approval by the European Commission is expected to follow shortly but is not expected to create any issues.

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.

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.

This will be particularly good news for readers in the Manchester area, with direct Aer Lingus services to New York, Boston and Orlando due to start next Summer.

You need to assume that the Aer Lingus partnership with United is now on the way out. This will remove one of quirks of the Avios programme – you were able to earn Avios by flying to the USA with Star Alliance member United, as long as you credited them to Aer Lingus AerClub.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

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Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

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You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (42)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Billy says:

    There is going to be a massive devaluation once business returns.

    • Dubious says:

      I am finding there is already a devaluation of sorts – many of the services, not just status benefits, have been cut back at various chains but there’s not that much in the way of pricing discounts aside from the usual promotions, e.g. Black Friday.

  • Baji Nahid says:

    I seen in the inventory that VS has retracted from MAN and hoping to start its US flights in March21. Lets see how this battle plays out.

    Could VS have an upper hand in pulling in connecting traffic. Could Flybe reappear? Looks like 2021 is going to be interesting.

    • Rob says:

      The small Aer Lingus aircraft won’t leach much traffic off Virgin, and the brand is very weak. Most customers will assume they need to change in Ireland and book elsewhere. The Avios / tier point link will drive some corporate traffic though.

      • tony says:

        Will the EI flights work on a codeshare basis? Assuming they carry BA and AA codes too, then when the average traveller goes to expedia to book a flight, it’s going to look like a choice between BA and VS. (Or AA and DL). The colour of the plane is immaterial.

        However does the JV require EI to up their game in terms of reinstating free drinks (soft & alcoholic) down the back?

        • Rob says:

          There is no requirement for service levels to match (or indeed seats!). You would imagine the flights will codeshare, yes.

          • tony says:

            I thought that membership of the JV did have some common seating requirement? Wasn’t it lie-flats in business? Quick google not showing anything, though…

        • C says:

          I have read elsewhere that certain routes (eg, LHR – JFK, ORD, BOS, DFW) must be flat bed in J. I don’t believe this applies to secondary routes; iirc, AA metal US to MAN, DUB, etc was for a long time sloping seats (757, 767 or, for a while, older configuration 777 / A330). I don’t see much room for any minimum in Y (well, seat belt and life vest excepted).

  • Dubious says:

    I must have made an assumption but I already had it in my head Accor were going to rollover.

    I was thinking that the previously awarded 15 nights credit (awarded earlier this year to all members) would have come in handy next year, but I see these were added in April 2020 so before the cut-off date they have now announced.

    What they have done makes some business sense from a global perspective – a bit annoying for those of us trapped in places with few low-budget alternatives for the 15-nights though.

  • Alan says:

    Accor may be doing something about status but no sign of commonsense when it comes to points. Lots of reports of folks whose points expired on 15/12. Their support website mentions an extension until April but that only seems to be for those paying for Accor Plus.

    • Fraser says:

      My points stash was due to expire in April (extended by 6 months, since my last Accor stay was in October 2919). I just logged in to check and the expiry date is now showing as December 2021 so it seems they have extended validity again, but haven’t written to members about this yet.

      Since I’ve already passed the “one stay every 12 months” deadline by 2 months, this looks fairly reassuring, but I might want to do a 1 night Ibis mattress run before April to be on the safe side.

      It’s worth pointing out the Platinum “suite upgrade” vouchers are each for ONE night only. I have two which are about to expire, and frankly wouldn’t even use them on a Fairmont stay, given the hassle of changing rooms after 1 night. Absolutely pointless benefit.

  • Paul says:

    What is legroom like in economy in these Aer Lingus single aisle planes? Do they have a PE cabin too does anyone know as could be a good way of avoiding the usual MAN-LHR hop for me now as I am in NW.

    • Rhys says:

      No PE

    • Jack says:

      Aer Lingus has become nastier than BA, there is a reason that BA have “given” the North to EI. Years ago they were perfectly pleasant. Any airline that gives me a “spork” will not get more business from me.

  • John says:

    “ You need to assume that the Aer Lingus partnership with United is now on the way out.”

    I also assume this will be an end to me being able to book Aer Lingus flights with my United miles? It’s been a handheld way to use miles I’ve earned from work – generally to get over to Ireland to see family. I like how redemptions also include luggage.

    Shame if so!

  • Wally1976 says:

    Planning on bagging BA Reward seats for LON-MCO for 4 of us for August 2022. MAN is more convenient for us – anyone know if Aer Longus will be offering any guaranteed number of reward seats on their MAN services?

    • Anna says:

      I’m crossing my fingers that all these routes will be a long term thing and also wondering what cash prices will be like (usually eye watering from MAN compared with London departures for long haul). It might be worth tracking Aer Lingus redemptions for a couple of months and getting an idea of the number of seats they release.
      If it wasn’t for the 2 4 1 we would have very likely used Aer Lingus – we live nearer to Dublin than London after all!

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks Anna, I was forgetting we’re going to be using a 2 for 1 so will stick with BA! We’re Midlands based and willing to do LHR or LGW if necessary but MAN is a bit easier. (BHX is easiest of course but very few direct redemption opportunities there)

    • ankomonkey says:

      I prefer Aer Longus to Aer Lingus 🙂

  • Richard says:

    Although the Accor ALL scheme is far from generous, as you say, I have often (as a Silver member) been proferred some nice upgrades and lounge access at various properties in the UK and Europe. And they are sometimes quite good at providing a genuine welcome at reception, which always helps if you are in the hospitality business!

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