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Aer Lingus launch new route under Open Skies

9th August 2007 Print
Aer Lingus has announced that it will become the first airline in Europe to launch a new route under Open Skies when its inaugural flight from Dublin to Washington DC taking place last weekend.

Washington DC is the first of Aer Lingus' three new US long haul routes in 2007, with flights to Orlando and San Francisco commencing in October. While the new liberalised EU-US air regime does not fully come into effect until March 2008, the Irish Government secured the right for Aer Lingus to start flying to three new US gateways in 2007 ahead of all other EU airlines.

In total, the three new routes increase Aer Lingus' US gateways from four to seven and allow Aer Lingus to offer an additional 6,200 seats per week between Ireland and North America.

Hailing the inaugural flight to Washington DC as a watershed in Ireland's aviation history, Dermot Mannion, Aer Lingus Chief Executive said: "The removal of constraints on Aer Lingus' expansion into the US is hugely significant for both the airline and the country. Over 1 million North Americans visited Ireland in 2006 with a spend of €800 million and Tourism Ireland expects these numbers could grow to 1.6 million visitors with a spend of €1.26 billion over the next six years thanks to Open Skies.

“Aer Lingus has already taken delivery of two new long haul aircraft this year - our first new long haul aircraft in six years - and will double its long haul fleet to fourteen by 2014 in an investment worth US$2.4 billion. Securing the capital necessary to fund Aer Lingus' growth plans and take full advantage of Open Skies was a major factor in the decision to privatise Aer Lingus. We are forging ahead with our business plan and on delivering value for both customers and shareholders".

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey T.D. said: "This new route is significant for many reasons. It symbolises the liberalisation of transatlantic air services and the creation of a more dynamic and competitive Aer Lingus under a new ownership structure.

“It is part of this Government's aviation policy to promote the development of a wide range of competitive international air services to and from Ireland to underpin our economic growth and competitiveness. I wish the management and staff at Aer Lingus every success with this new venture."

The inaugural Washington DC flight departed Dublin at 2.30pm last Bank Holiday Monday 6 August.