Shannon Airport, which has been in the doldrums and uncertain with regard to services from several airlines, not least Aer Lingus and Ryanair, has been given a shot in the arm by Continental Airlines and its decision to add four flights per week to Shannon out of Newark and during the summer months.
Against the backdrop of the announcement, the Shannon airport authority has called for tourism interests in the West of Ireland to co-ordinate an aggressive U.S. marketing campaign to capitalize on the increased transatlantic access to Ireland's west coast.
Shannon Airport director, Mary Considine, said in a statement that there was real reason for optimism that the U.S. tourist market was starting to grow again.
"While there is a lot of ground still to make up, there are definite signs of recovery in the U.S. market and this is backed up from what we are hearing from tourism interests across the region. The recovery is evidenced by Continental's announcement of four new services weekly to its New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport," said Considine
"These new Continental services to New York for the busy summer season are a significant vote of confidence for Shannon Airport and the West of Ireland. They add to the range of new services secured by the airport across UK and European destinations over what has been a very successful past six months in terms of route development.
"Continental is a valued customer providing daily year round services to the USA from Shannon. Their continued commitment to Shannon is very much appreciated by all stakeholders in the region. Connectivity is the key to Shannon's continued success and through the airline's Newark hub the West of Ireland is linked year round with over 200 destinations across America," she said.
Also welcoming Continental's announcement, Chairman of Shannon Airport Authority, Brian O'Connell, called for public support for the new services and urged the adoption of a new, innovative working partnership between tourism interests in the West of Ireland, Shannon Airport, and Continental.
"This commitment by Continental represents a major investment and opportunity to market the unique tourism product we have here along the west coast of Ireland," said O'Connell.
"All western tourism interests should now co-ordinate an aggressive US marketing campaign on the back of this initiative and we stand ready at Shannon Airport to accommodate and facilitate that vital co-ordination.
"It is one thing to have an attractive tourism product, competitively priced and attractively packaged - all of which we have that here in the West. But it is of equal importance that we sell that product effectively and reap the economic benefits. That's what needs to be done now in conjunction with Continental," he said.