Ever since International Airlines Group acquired Aer Lingus in 2015, there has been the question of when it will join the transatlantic joint-business with American Airlines, BA, Finnair and Iberia.
This has long been anticipated so that all airlines can offer reciprocal codeshares and recognition of frequent flyers.
Courtesy of Airline Info, a formal motion has now been submitted to the US Department Of Transportation to add Aer Lingus to the joint-business.
This is a long document that few would want to read in the run up to Christmas.
Much of it covers what is anticipated, namely that Aer Lingus and American Airlines will add reciprocal codeshares on short-haul routes in Europe and the US. The two airlines will also be able to co-ordinate schedules between Ireland and North America, and share resources, such as co-locating at airports.
A few points of note are:
1. Aer Lingus will be free to maintain existing codeshares with JetBlue and United.
Since Aer Lingus joined IAG it has maintained its long-standing codeshare relationships with JetBlue and United.
If Aer Lingus joins the joint-business it will be free to maintain these codeshares and add new ones with more US airlines outside the joint-business.
2. This does not mean Aer Lingus is rejoining Oneworld.
The submission makes it clear that Aer Lingus rejoining the Oneworld alliance is an entirely separate decision from joining the transatlantic joint-business.
Aer Lingus is on the record that no work has been done on it rejoining Oneworld.
3. Codesharing between Aer Lingus and BA may be at risk if the application is not allowed.
Currently, Aer Lingus and BA codeshare on each other’s transatlantic routes outside of the joint-business. This does benefit Aer Lingus in particular, as it gains feeder traffic from London.
The submission suggests that this may be at risk to protect the integrity of the joint-business where all participating airlines must treat each other’s flights equally when selling tickets.
In terms of what happens next, rival airlines may make submissions to the Department of Transportation.
When Delta applied to combine its transatlantic joint-businesses with Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic into one, JetBlue, with an eye on remedy slots to launch its own transatlantic services to London, requested that the Department carry out further market analysis. If similar responses are received, this could delay a final decision by the Department of Transportation.
That said, at least there are signs of long-awaited tangible progress.