Shannon has a viable future, says United
Shannon Airport can have a viable future, according to a senior executive at United Airlines, after the carrier inaugurated a service to Chicago from the west of Ireland.
It will operate until the end of August.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, United Airlines' vice president of Atlantic and Pacific sales Jim Mueller, said he believed connecting with Chicago – where the airline has its headquarters – generated the scale required to service a destination such as Shannon.
"Chicago on its own is a tremendous source of corporate and leisure travel. But for us, it's not just Chicago. We have over 125 cities that connect and feed into that," he said.
"You gather demand from all of those points via Chicago and suddenly you have a critical mass to feed a market like Shannon directly. It allows us to serve Shannon and its catchment area," he added.
United, which merged two years ago with Continental to create one of the world's biggest airline groups, has launched the summer service to Shannon at a time when the airport's passenger traffic has collapsed. Last year, the number of passengers using it slumped 14pc to just under 1.4 million, due significantly to a sizeable decrease in US troop movements.
The airport separated from the Dublin Airport Authority at the end of 2012 to become an independent business.
United already serves Newark and Washington DC from Dublin on a year-round basis.
Mr Mueller said consolidation in the airline industry was certain to continue.