*Photograph: Eamon Ward
SHANNON AIRPORT has celebrated “a real milestone” in its recovery with the resumption of transatlantic flights.
For the first time since March 21st 2020, Aer Lingus’ route from Shannon Airport to Boston Logan Airport hit the skies while services to New York/JFK International Airport return on Friday, both of which will operate daily. United Airline’s Newark from Shannon route is also to recommence. Shannon’s London Heathrow service is due to be back at “full strength” by the end of March.
This summer Aer Lingus will be operating its largest seat capacity for transatlantic flights from Shannon Airport in seventeen years. In comparison to the two transatlantic services at Shannon for summer 2022, Aer Lingus will operate eleven routes from Dublin to the US.
At a special event at Shannon Airport on Thursday morning, key personnel within Shannon Group, hospitality representatives including John Madden, Sean Lally and Dermot Kelly were also present. Junior Minister, Hildegarde Naughton (FG), Aer Lingus Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Donal Moriarity, Honorary Consul of France, Dr Loic Guyon were at the departures gate for the event.
Clare politicians, Cathal Crowe TD (FF), Joe Carey TD (FG), Senator Timmy Dooley (FF), Senator Martin Conway (FG), Mayor of Clare, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) and Cllr John Crowe (FG) were joined by their Limerick counterparts, Richard O’Donoghue (IND), Senator Maria Byrne (FG) and Cllr Daniel Butler (FG).
Speaking on Thursday, Shannon Group CEO, Mary Considine said the return of transatlantic flights marked “a real milestone” in Shannon Airport’s recovery from the pandemic. She referenced the “rich history of air links” between Ireland and the United States, “it is really great news that they are being restored”.
Welcoming back US visitors to Irish soil is a real plus, Ms Considine stated. She praised staff for their efforts during a difficult two year period. “We haven’t been idle, we have used the time to invest, hopefully as you came through you will have seen that”.
Airline partners remain critical to restoring air connectivity at Shannon, she commented. She thanked Aer Lingus for their “commitment to Shannon” by restoring the Boston and New York services.
Aer Lingus’ Donal Moriarity said the restart of the transatlantic service marked “a really important day for Aer Lingus and Shannon Airport”. He briefly referenced the “difficult decisions” made by the airline during the pandemic which included the closure of its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport, 81 cabin crew had worked from the base.
There will be fourteen weekly flights to Eastern USA from Shannon, he noted, “it is a great thing for the region”. The aircraft, A321LR NEO was described as “new generation, high-tech and modern technology” with twenty percent more fuel efficiency and fifty percent less engine noise.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Naughton believed the return of the flights highlighted the transition from COVID. She also singled out the “drive and commitment” of Aer Lingus and Shannon Airport. “The commitment illustrates the strength of ties between Ireland & the US which remain as strong since the first flight from Shannon to the US many decades ago”.
Aviation’s importance to the economy was flagged by the Galway woman. “We have strong FDI in the region, this flight is a very clear signal for FDI that we are open for business”. The amount of Government supports provided to aid airports in their pandemic recovery was mentioned by the Junior Minister who also acknowledged the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, “it is unfortunate as we come out of pandemic to find ourselves in international conflict”.