Irish national carrier Aer Lingus is to offer additional flights to popular European leisure break destination, the Algarve, next summer with a new non-stop link to Faro from Shannon. The airline already provides year-round flights to Faro from Dublin and Cork as well as seasonal services from Belfast, which next year will operate from George Best Belfast City following the airline’s airport switch this winter.
Aer Lingus will introduce a three times weekly link between Shannon and Faro from May 1, 2013 as part of an expanded summer 2013 programme. The announcement represents the return of scheduled air services on the route after a three year hiatus, although Thomas Cook Airlines has continued to offer a weekly service for Inclusive Tour passengers.
It is envisaged that this new service will generate an additional 20,000 passengers through Shannon Airport next year and provide a welcome boost for sun seekers and holidaymakers from the West of Ireland. According to Declan Power, Aviation Business Development, Shannon Airport, an estimated 100,000 passengers from the Shannon catchment area have had to make their way to Portugal via other airports since Ryanair last served the route in March 2010.
“We have been working to secure the return of the Faro route so that customers in our region can avoid the inconvenience and additional costs of driving and parking their cars at other airports and on occasion incurring additional accommodation costs,” he explained. “Customers can now avoid this inconvenience with more direct services on the doorstep of their local airport.”
According to Power, the Shannon Airport team will be working closely with Aer Lingus to ensure the continued operation of the route over the coming years and restoring growth and potentially further new services for Shannon and the West of Ireland. Mary Considine, Director, Shannon Airport echoed this view suggesting the route launch is a “clear indication” by Aer Lingus it has potential for growth at Shannon, particularly on European routes.
“This is excellent news for Shannon Airport and more so for the many thousands of people from the West of Ireland that travel to the Algarve every year, be it for annual sun holidays, short leisure breaks or golf trips. 2012 has been challenging for Shannon in terms of airline services and passenger traffic volumes but we are finishing out the year on a really positive note,” she said.
In a separate move, Aer Lingus is to also bring forward the resumption of its long-haul services to Boston and New York to March 11, 2013 after a short winter season break, enabling the carrier to take advantage of expected higher demand during the St Patrick’s weekend. This will mean the carrier will add an extra 112,000 seats to its transatlantic schedule. This 15 per cent increase in transatlantic capacity versus 2011 will take the form of 90 additional roundtrips between Dublin and Boston and 120 additional roundtrips between Dublin and Chicago. This will give a significant boost to inbound tourism from the United States.