The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Air Canada, Aer Lingus sign agreement to make flying to Ireland more convenient

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MONTREAL - Air Canada and Irish national carrier Aer Lingus have signed an interline agreement that will make flying between the two countries more convenient.

The deal announced Friday allows customers to fly year-round through London Heathrow Airport on one ticket.

Canada's largest carrier (TSX:AC.B) operates daily seasonal service between Toronto and Dublin from June until Oct. 13, but also has year-round service to London from several Canadian gateways.

Aer Lingus operates 23 daily flights from London's largest airport to Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Shannon.

Passengers on both airlines will be able to use a single electronic ticket, check-in kiosks and have baggage checked through to their final destinations.

The agreement is a step towards a full code-sharing partnership expected to be finalized next year.

Air Canada vice-president Marcel Forget said the carriers also plan to relocate their operations to Terminal 2 at Heathrow to facilitate connections and later introduce year-round flights between Canada and Ireland.

Air Canada is the 15th largest airline in the world, carrying more than 33 million passengers to 175 destinations.

Aer Lingus flies more than 11 million passengers on 56 aircraft.

The agreement follows Air Canada's decision to hire about 1,100 employees, including 200 at its new low-cost carrier that will increase service to Europe and leisure destinations in the Caribbean and the United States.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada's shares gained two cents at $1.25 in morning trading.

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