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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Aer Lingus CEO: Dublin to Doha flights ‘a matter of time’

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Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge at night
Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge at night

Qatar residents will soon have the option of taking a direct flight to Dublin, the CEO of Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus has said.

Speaking yesterday at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) annual general meeting in Dublin, Stephen Kavanagh said it was “only a matter of time” before a link to the Irish capital was introduced.

Currently, passengers wishing to travel from Doha to Dublin have to choose a connecting flight, often with Etihad or Emirates via the UAE.

An Aer Lingus A330
An Aer Lingus A330

Despite signaling the airline’s intention to introduce the route, Kavanagh did not give a firm timeframe for the launch, calling it a “a medium-term plan.”

If Aer Lingus does commence flights to Doha, it will be the airline’s first Gulf route since it ceased operations to Dubai in 2008 due to financial reasons.

A Qatari partner

The new flight is a “natural way” of exploiting the airline’s relationship with Qatar Airways, Kavanagh said, referring to Qatar’s 15 percent stake in Aer Lingus owner IAG.

“We’ve been bereft of opportunity growing east, simply because of the control that Emirates and Etihad would have on the flow of traffic to the Middle East on to their networks,” he is quoted as saying in the Irish Independent.

“Now we have not just a shareholder, but also a partner, with a competitive network in Qatar. It’s a natural way of exploiting the opportunities that both parties can bring,” he said.

Kavanagh’s comments come just months after Qatar Airways also expressed interest in beginning a route to Dublin.

Kavanagh told IATA members that his airline had not yet decided whether the route would use Aer Lingus or Qatar Airways aircraft – suggesting that the airline would operate the route as a codeshare.

Aer Lingus is not yet a member of oneworld, but it’s likely to join both Qatar Airways and fellow IAG airline British Airways in the alliance soon, further cementing the tie-up between the international carriers.

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