Aer Lingus will be needing more Airbus aircraft like this one
By Ray O’Hanlon
A return to Los Angeles is no great surprise, while a foot in the door in Newark offers Ireland-bound travelers in the tri-state area a handy second departure choice.
But it’s the announcement by Aer Lingus that it will be starting up a daily service linking Hartford, Connecticut with Dublin next year that is the surprising headline maker in the latest move by the Irish carrier, one that will see it reach a milestone in 2016 that is operating a dozen routes from North America to Dublin and Shannon.
Eleven of the routes will be out of U.S. cities, while Toronto makes up the dozen.
Aer Lingus has flown in the past to Los Angeles, but the service was shelved after the economic downturn.
Recently, the airline resumed services to Ireland out of San Francisco, a sign of returning demand out of California and a sure signal that a resumption out of LA would not be far behind.
The Los Angeles service will be five days while the services out of Newark and Bradley International Airport in the Connecticut state capital will be daily.
The increased seat availability will fit in nicely with Tourism Ireland ambitions to propel visitor numbers from North America to even greater heights beyond the record levels of recent years.
Certainly, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, saw the Aer Lingus announcement in this light.
“In an economic context, this is a hugely significant development, given that increased direct air access is one of the key factors in driving trade, investment and tourism flows between the two countries,” said Flanagan.
“Eleven direct Aer Lingus routes will soon be operating between Ireland and the U.S., our largest market for export goods, with the U.S. consuming 22 percent of our goods exports in 2014, an increase of more than seven percent on the previous year.
“The United States is now one of the top four source markets for tourism. The U.S. market accounts for 15 percent of total overseas visitors to Ireland, but 25 percent of total revenue. These new routes will support the continued expansion of U.S. visitor numbers into the future."
With regard to the three new routes Mr. Flanagan continued: “The return of Aer Lingus to the Los Angeles route, after a five year absence, will add to the existing Ethiopian Airlines service on this key route to the West Coast of the United States, adding frequency and capacity to this pivotal hub.
“The new Aer Lingus service to Newark will both provide direct links to the largest city in New Jersey and provide further connectivity for New York, with Newark being only eight miles from Manhattan.
“Aer Lingus’ brand new service to Hartford will for the first time provide direct access to the U.S. State of Connecticut from Ireland. Connecticut is home to a strong Irish-American community who, until now, have had to travel to either New York or Boston in order to fly to Ireland.”
Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh said: "The introduction of these three routes will open up new tourism and business opportunities with improved connectivity through our Dublin Gateway. We look forward to welcoming guests on board our new services in 2016."
Willie Walsh, CEO of Aer Lingus parent company IAG, said he believed Ireland’s "geographic location and U.S. immigration pre-clearance provided a natural gateway to build IAG’s business between Europe and North America through Aer Lingus."