Ryanair Holdings Plc will soon offer connections to destinations including New York and Havana, as the budget carrier widens its network of long-haul partners with a deal with Spain’s Air Europa. Thomas Gualtieri and Benjamin Katz / Bloomberg
— Patrick Whyte
In the first stage of the cooperation starting Tuesday, Ryanair customers can book Air Europa tickets to 20 cities in the Americas via the Dublin-based carrier’s website, the company said. The second phase will include connections between Ryanair’s flights to Madrid and Air Europa’s long-haul destinations, bringing the no-frills specialist’s strategy closer to network rivals.
The Irish carrier is tapping its dense European network with an eye to supplanting its legacy competitors’ often unprofitable short-haul operations designed to feed passengers to more lucrative long-distance routes. The Air Europa deal follows similar agreements with IAG SA’s Aer Lingus and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.
An increasing share of Ryanair’s passenger growth in the coming years will be from feeder deals, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary has said. The airline expects to carry 200 million passengers by 2024 compared with 117 million last year, with about 10 percent of that expansion likely to derive from these types of partnerships.
In addition to offering Aer Lingus and Norwegian connections at Dublin airport as early as this summer, Ryanair has said it could operate feed arrangements with the likes of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Italy’s Alitalia SpA and Portugal’s TAP.
Air Europa, based in Mallorca, is Spain’s third-biggest airline after Iberia and Vueling. It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance with Delta Air Lines Inc. and Air France-KLM Group.
Ryanair last week formally started offering passengers connecting flights on its own network at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, another step the company’s taking away from its pure focus on point-to-point travel. That move, which the discounter previously shunned for the risk of over-complicating its schedule, brings Ryanair closer to conventional airline operations after decades of challenging rival network carriers with bargain basement fares.
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