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Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh said the airline is looking at new routes to the US and aims to be the leading value carrier across the Atlantic, as parent group IAG reported profit of €835m for the first half of the year – up from €790m this time last year.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh said “there was a strong performance in both unit revenue and costs” during the six months to the end of June for the group, which also includes BA, Iberia, Level and Vueling, but added: “Unfortunately, French Air Traffic Control strikes continued to challenge our operations causing disruption to our customers. Vueling was particularly affected and incurred an additional 20 million of disruption costs in the quarter. These strikes are also having a significant negative impact on the Spanish economy and tourism.”

He said IAG will continue to ramp up operations at its Level lcc, saying: “In July, Level started flights from Paris Orly to Montreal and Guadeloupe. We are committed to accelerating Level’s growth and its fleet will increase to a total of seven A330-200 aircraft in Paris and Barcelona next year. Also, we launched LEVEL shorthaul operations from Vienna where it will have four A321 aircraft that will operate to 14 European destinations.”

Stephen Kavanagh, CEO of Aer Lingus

Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus

Stephen Kavanagh said “Aer Lingus has an ambitious flight path – to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic. This vision is enabled by a profitable, sustainable short-haul network; and is supported by a guest-focused brand and digitally-enabled value proposition.”

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“We have invested in our people with hundreds of new Cabin Crew, Pilot and Ground positions created this summer; we had over 8,600 applicants for the Aer Lingus Future Pilot Programme which launched in April; our Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme launched in May is a four-year programme run in conjunction with DIT and SOLAS, Further Education & Training Authority in Ireland. Our commitment to investing in our people is exemplified by the multi-million euro investment in a new joint flight crew and cabin crew training centre which will be open in 2020.”

But he again said that the airline want to see changes at Dublin Airport: “In order to realise our growth ambitions significant infrastructure development and process improvement is required at Dublin Airport. We expect that the airport’s forthcoming Capital Investment Programme will begin to address the infrastructure deficits at the airport. Prior to the delivery of such infrastructure, we are hopeful that airlines can work with Dublin Airport to make significant process improvement and to optimise existing infrastructure in order to address the existing congestion and to facilitate growth.”

On transatlantic growth, he said: “Our aim is to compete on the global stage and to realise our ambition to be the leading value carrier on the North Atlantic. Our new aircraft being delivered from 2019 – the Airbus A321 NEO LR – will make new airports in the US more attractive and present a variety of potential destination cities. To realise the new opportunity that these new modern fuel efficient aircraft will provide, we launched a search for new 2019 North American Airport destinations presenting a unique opportunity for local communities to invest, alongside Aer Lingus, in the introduction or expansion of our service, as has been so successfully realised in Hartford.”

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