Aer Lingus is probably going to join the oneworld alliance as a oneworld Connect member. This is according to comments made by Willie Walsh at the alliance’s 20th birthday celebrations yesterday.

The Irish carrier is owned by IAG, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. IAG are the parent company that also owns oneworld carriers British Airways and Iberia among others.

Oneworld and Aer Lingus

Ireland’s flag carrier was a full member of the oneworld alliance, originally joining on 1 June 2000. The decision was the made to leave the alliance on 1 April 2007. The airline was beginning what turned out to be a disastrous strategy to operate as a low-cost point to point carrier, so membership thought to be superfluous.

Unfortunately the strategy to compete with Ryanair turned into years of losses. A new CEO changed tack and positioned Aer Lingus successfully as a value carrier. Since it’s sale to IAG in 2015, the airline has expanded, using Dublin to connect Europe to the USA. It is now the most profitable airline in the group based on return on invested capital.

Speculation about alliance membership has been rife since IAG’s takeover. Frequent flyers have expected the airline to go back into oneworld, but nothing has really happened. At the end of 2018, Aer Lingus applied to join the transatlantic joint venture with American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair, all oneworld carriers.

Now Head For Points report that Aer Lingus have a “very realistic” chance of joining via oneworld Connect as it offers a lower level of complexity which the Irish carrier would prefer. You need to link up with just three alliance airlines at a minimum, rather than the entire group.

Who Might Be The Oneworld Connect Partners?

There are a few candidates who might sponsor Aer Lingus into the alliance. My guess would be British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines as the logical choices to start with.

Aer Lingus continues to have frequent flyer links with Cathay Pacific and Qantas in the oneworld alliance. Therefore, I would bet that these two also have a chance of being sponsors as well. Five of the alliance airlines would probably cover it.

Overall Thoughts

The main sponsor airlines in oneworld Connect have full alliance benefits between them. This includes earning and redeeming frequent flyer points as well as earning status in the programmes.

Irish people are well used to checking the Aer Lingus web site for flight bookings. There is probably an opportunity for them to codeshare on the Cathay Pacific services to Hong Kong, or the Qantas services to Australia, selling them directly to the public with EI flight numbers.

Hopefully alliance membership will happen sooner rather than later. What do you think of this development? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via Aer Lingus.
All other images via oneworld alliance.