British Airways deal 'will boost Heathrow service' from Belfast
The acquisition of Aer Lingus by British Airways' owner IAG will improve the service for passengers flying between Belfast and Heathrow, it has been claimed.
Aer Lingus chief commercial officer, Mike Rutter, said it is currently working with its new sister airline BA to ensure it can maximise the selection of flights available to customers.
Questions have been raised over the long-term future of the Aer Lingus route between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow after IAG bought Aer Lingus earlier this year. Between the two airlines, there are nine routes to Heathrow every day.
The route is of crucial importance to the business community in Northern Ireland.
Mr Rutter said: "Our plan is to enhance the timetable. It is the sensible thing to do.
"You may have two flights departing within 10 minutes of one another and we're looking at making best use of the resources to provide customers with greater selection and the most competitive prices.
"You might instead have flights leaving every hour or so, so you are almost back to the days of the shuttle service."
Mr Rutter said customers searching on the Aer Lingus website for flights between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow may be offered alternatives being run by BA and vice versa.
"For example, you might fly out on one airline and return on the other depending on what is cheaper or a more convenient time," he said.
"We're working on that at the moment although it will take us a couple of months to be able to iron all that out."
Earlier this year, Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, gave reassurances over the future of the brand.
Mr Walsh said its base and management team will remain in Ireland but will grow as part of a strong, profitable airline group.
"This means new routes and more jobs benefiting customers, employees and the Irish economy and tourism," he said.