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Ennis, Clare, Ireland, 2008/03/18 - Aer Lingus has denied suggestions that it has given preferential treatment to Dublin Airport in relation to the operation of its transatlantic services.
The airline this week told a delegation from County Clare and the Mid West Region that it was encouraged by the ongoing destination marketing efforts by local business and tourism interests. It also pledged its commitment to developing transatlantic services at Shannon Airport.
Representing Aer Lingus at the meeting in Ireland House, Park Avenue, New York, this week were Jack Foley, Executive Vice President in North America; Kate Kiernan, Director of Revenues & Business Development; and Helen Maguire, Director Consumer Sales. Representatives of Clare County Council, Shannon Town Council, the Clare County Development Board and the Mid West Regional Authority also attended the meeting.
Speaking after the 90-minute meeting, Councillor Patricia McCarthy, Mayor of Clare, said, “During a series of robust and frank exchanges, the Clare delegation welcomed the recent Aer Lingus announcement regarding the retention of existing transatlantic services. However, the delegation expressed its concern that Dublin was being favoured over Shannon and that fare packages were more attractive for those flying into Dublin.”
She continued, “Aer Lingus was adamant that there was no preferential treatment towards Dublin. We were told that market factors were at play and pricing had to take account of this. It was reassuring to hear from the airline that it was in their interests for the transatlantic routes to be a success and that they would work with people to develop services at Shannon.”
Mayor McCarthy said that Aer Lingus was very receptive to the suggestion that County Clare and the wider region assist in promoting the transatlantic routes and securing increased visitors through Shannon Airport.
“It makes perfect sense that those affected by any potential alteration of Aer Lingus transatlantic operations do their utmost to make existing services a success. I am aware of the huge amount of promotional work already being done in this area by the local business and hospitality sectors, and fully appreciate that that such efforts must continue if the US routes are to remain viable for Aer Lingus”, she added.
Meanwhile, the Mayor has welcomed the airline’s commitment to investigate the possible reestablishment of a direct service between Shannon and Chicago. Presently, all Aer Lingus passengers travelling between Chicago and Shannon must disembark at Dublin Airport.
Mayor McCarthy said, “I raised the issue of the Chicago route and the difficulties currently being experienced. Aer Lingus acknowledged the difficulties and said that it needed to do some work in relation to feed in to the routes from other locations. They informed me that they were actively working on this.”
During the meeting, Aer Lingus confirmed that it enjoyed its most successful ever Irish promotion last summer following the launch of the Clare Tourism Forum website on Fox News in Milwaukee and NBC’s live broadcast from the Cliffs of Moher.
According to Councillor Sean McLoughlin, Mayor of Shannon, “Such successes indicate that there is a major market in North America for the West of Ireland. What the airline and those in County Clare need to do to find structured ways in which this market can be tapped.”
Mayor McLoughlin expressed optimism that future destination marketing campaigns by tourism interests in County Clare and the wider region would encourage Aer Lingus to further commit to developing its operations at Shannon Airport.
“At the meeting, Aer Lingus proposed to dovetail marketing initiatives and promotional fares with local initiatives, such as the provision by accommodation providers of competitive packages. I also welcome the airline’s proposal that it would run a tourism promotional video, produced by the region, as part of its on-board marketing of its routes”, concluded Mayor McLoughlin.
To arrange an interview or for further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or email. A high-resolution image of the meetings attendees is available on request.