The boss of International Airlines Group has praised his Ryanair rival, describing Michael O’Leary’s transformation of the airline as “stunning”.
Willie Walsh made the comments in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph. It came as he confirmed talks had taken place between Ryanair and Aer Lingus (which IAG acquired last summer) for Ryanair to become a feeder airline to Aer Lingus.
“There were certainly advanced talks with Aer Lingus at a high level,” Walsh told the newspaper. “I think it is workable. It can be done. We’re still open to the idea.
“I would be surprised if it doesn’t happen. I think they’ve got some interesting destinations that they serve and connect with and they could be sensibly linked with the Aer Lingus network.”
O’Leary has previously stated that Ryanair could team up with other long-haul carriers to deliver passengers to hubs for longer flights.
Walsh added though that negotiations could prove tough. “Ryanair will provide feed-in where it’s convenient to Ryanair. They’re not going to change their schedules or their modus operandi to facilitate feeding in to somebody else.”
He also praised Walsh’s bid to improve Ryanair’s customer service. “You have to give him credit that when he decides to do something, he certainly goes about it.”
Elsewhere, Walsh said that 90% of IAG’s long-haul fleet would have high-quality connectivity by early 2019. “We believe this will be the best Wi-Fi on international flights anywhere.”
However, he insisted that it would not be a money-maker for BA, and that while there would be opportunities to levy charges for everything other than basic services, it would overall still be a cost on the balance sheet.