Aer Lingus surprised absolutely nobody by announcing the termination of its codeshare agreement with United Airlines. The implications of this move are far-reaching, especially for United MileagePlus members who will no longer be able to earn points by flying with Aer Lingus. But the ripples of this decision extend further, with implications for the Oneworld alliance and the transatlantic partnership landscape.
Previously, British Airways Executive Club members could earn miles when flying on United, but it involved a convoluted points transfer process that involved earning Avios through Aer Lingus, and then transferring them 1:1 to BA. It’s worth noting that British Airways and United Airlines belong to different alliances – BA is a member of Oneworld, while UA is part of Star Alliance.
In the wake of Aer Lingus ending its codeshare agreement with United, one thing is abundantly clear – American Airlines emerges as the victor in this scenario. With American becoming their sole US partner, the alignment between these two airlines strengthens, offering more travel opportunities and rewards for passengers. This comes the airlines began codesharing just last year, fueling speculation that the United partnership might come to an end. It’s a win-win for American Airlines and its loyal customers, but a loss for United loyalists.
Interestingly, under the current arrangement, United members have been able to redeem their miles on Aer Lingus, but AA members have not. It’s unclear if this move will pave the way for AAdvantage members to redeem miles for Aer Lingus flights, or perhaps something much bigger…
Beyond this immediate consequence, the question that lingers in the minds of industry observers is whether Aer Lingus is positioning itself for a return to the Oneworld alliance. This is not an unfounded thought; Aer Lingus was once a member of Oneworld before it parted ways in 2007, and has retained strong connections to the alliance, despite being officially neutral. A rumor circulating on FlyerTalk earlier this year suggested that Aer Lingus might be considering a return, with a potential rejoining date of Q2 2025.
Aer Lingus has always been something of an oddball in the airline world. It’s the only full-service airline within the International Airlines Group (IAG) umbrella that isn’t a member of any alliance, let alone Oneworld. Given that IAG’s other legacy carriers, such as British Airways and Iberia, are longtime Oneworld members, it’s easy to see why many are speculating that Aer Lingus’s return to the fold might be in the cards. After all, it would make sense in terms of ownership and alignment.
The termination of the United codeshare is just one piece of this complex puzzle. As the airline industry continues to evolve and adapt to changing market dynamics, it’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for Aer Lingus. Will they make the leap back into Oneworld, rekindling old alliances and forging new partnerships? Only time will tell, but for now, we can certainly keep our eyes on this intriguing development in the world of aviation.