Air Transport World

Intriguingly independent: Aer Lingus blends full service and LCC models while fending off Ryanair.(PROFILE)

DERMOT MANNION IS NOT SHY ABOUT EXTOLLING the virtues of the airline he joined as chief executive in August 2005. "We believe that Aer Lingus is the most successful of the European flag carriers in the way the business has been reengineered in recent years to operate on a low cost basis," he tells ATW at the airline's headquarters here. "Carriers tend to be either legacy full-service or LCC. We operate a hybrid model, which is quite unusual by industry standards, but we think it works well."


Aer Lingus, which was privatized in September 2006, applies what he calls "an out-and-out low-cost, low-fares model" on its short-haul network but continues to offer a full-service product on its long-haul routes. It implemented the LCC model after a serious flirtation with bankruptcy in 2001. It is built upon low fares, high utilization and short turnarounds, a point-to-point network, low production costs, high load factors and leveraging that load factor for ancillary revenue on its short-haul network.

The change of operating model on its European routes, initiated by Willie Walsh, then EI chief executive and now CEO of British Airways, surely has proven to be the right strategy, Mannion confirms, yet he is adamantly opposed to extending it onto transatlantic routes.

"We are very much retaining the full-service ethos on the long-haul and, actually, we are investing in the full-service product. Our two new A330s are customized to the best standards in the industry in terms of seats and IFE and we will be retrofitting the remainder of the [long-haul] fleet to these standards during the winter overhaul program in 2008-09," the former Emirates Group Support Services president stresses.


"We believe that the short-haul business model and long-haul business model are very different, and in our opinion a full-service product with a mix of Premier and economy passengers with cargo is the optimum model in long-haul," he continues, pointing out that Oasis, which experimented with a long-haul, no-frills product, shut down some months ago. …

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