Air passengers in the north of England and Scotland are increasingly flying to America via Dublin to avoid Heathrow, according to Aer Lingus.
The airline said it experienced a 36pc increase in the number of UK passengers flying to North America via Dublin in June compared to a year earlier, as it announced it is expanding its long-haul transatlantic business.
Aer Lingus, which was recently the subject of a takeover bid by rival Ryanair, carries 100,000 UK passengers a year to destinations in North America on its long-haul flights out of Dublin. But the number is growing as the Irish airport proves an attractive alternative to Heathrow, which is operating at full capacity.
Passengers from the north of England and Scotland who transfer through Terminal 2 at Dublin are able to clear US customs in advance so they avoid large queues when they reach their final destination.
And in figures released this morning, passenger numbers for Aer Lingus are up 3.1 per cent on the same period last year. 1, 044,000 passengers used the operator in June 2013 compared to June 2012.
Passengers are also becoming increasingly canny at avoiding Air Passenger Duty by booking single tickets to Dublin and separate long-haul tickets out of Ireland so they only pay the short-haul rate of the so-called “flight tax”. APD is levied on all departures from a UK airport and varies in price depending on the distance flown.
“The further north you live [in Great Britain], the more benefit you have going via Dublin to the US because you save so much time avoiding Heathrow,” said Christoph Mueller, chief executive of Aer Lingus.
The airline claims Dublin recently overtook Amsterdam Schiphol as the preferred hub for UK passengers who want to avoid flying via Heathrow to North America.
Aer Lingus is introducing a new route to Toronto from Dublin and will operate five flights a week from the Irish capital to San Francisco.
Additional reporting independent.ie