Ireland and Boston grew closer today as Aer Lingus commenced a daily year-round service from Shannon to the Massachusetts capital.
The service is one of the key aspects of Aer Lingus’ renewed commitment to the independent Shannon Airport this year, with the airline also set to operate a six-times weekly, year-round JFK New York service from March 30th.
In addition, Aer Lingus will also commence a new Malaga service at the end of April and, through its partner Aer Arann, under the Aer Lingus Regional service will also operate a new Bristol route this summer as well as almost double capacity on Manchester and Birmingham services. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Aer Lingus Shannon cabin crew base.
The increased transatlantic services will build on the strong momentum achieved last year when passenger numbers on US services at Shannon, in the airport’s first year as an independent entity, grew steadily, with the latter half of the year showing a 22% rise on the same period in 2012.
The enhanced Boston and New York services will see Aer Lingus this year operate 13 weekly transatlantic flights compared to seven last year, a 24% increase in capacity. Passengers on US services from Shannon have the added bonus of pre-clearing US customs, immigration and agriculture on the Irish side, saving them considerable time on arrival in the US.
Shannon, in 2009, became the first airport outside the North Americas to have US pre-clearance.
Welcoming the launch, Shannon Airport chairman, Rose Hynes said it is a strong vote of confidence in the airport and wider region. “We have a transatlantic catchment at Shannon that goes from Cork right up to the North-West. Within that region there is very significant demand for both business and tourism connections into both Boston and New York.
“This is the first time since 2009 that Aer Lingus will have operated year-round daily services from Shannon, which is a further reflection of the growth path that the airport is now on.”
Today’s Boston flight was another first at Shannon as it marked Aer Lingus’ inaugural commercial transatlantic flight with the Boeing B757 aircraft. The airline will base two 757s at Shannon, replacing a single Airbus A330.
The increased frequency also significantly enhances Shannon connectivity to almost 40 cities in North America through Aer Lingus’ partner airline, Jetblue Airways, allowing passengers to connect seamlessly to cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, Washington, Orlando and Dallas.
Aer Lingus chief executive, Christoph Mueller said: “This is a significant day for Aer Lingus and for our team at Shannon Airport. Today’s flight marks the beginning of our major transatlantic expansion in 2014. We are confident that the increased number of flights from Shannon to New York and Boston will bring additional tourists to the Western region and further support the strong international trade links between the region and the United States.”
He added: “Our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24% in 2014, following on from a very strong year of growth in 2013. Crucially, this expansion will directly support more than 200 jobs in Ireland within Aer Lingus and our partner airline ASL Aviation Group.”
Neil Pakey, CEO Shannon Airport added: “Today is a very important day for us and our passengers as we see not just the return of year-round Aer Lingus transatlantic services for the first time since 2009 at Shannon but also the near doubling of frequencies to Boston and New York.
“This new daily Boston service is very much driven by the market, with significant demand, in particular, from the business community due to the very significant presence in the West and South of Ireland of Massachusetts based US multi-nationals such as Boston Scientific and EMC. This is supplemented by a very strong inbound and outbound tourism market thanks to the incredible ties between this region and both Boston and New York.”