Airline plans €300 return flights to Canada
CUT-PRICE transatlantic flights -- costing a mere €300 return -- could be on the cards for passengers from Shannon and Cork airports next year, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Canadian budget carrier WestJet is considering an expansion of its transatlantic service from Ireland, after tickets on 110 flights to Dublin next summer sold out "within hours".
Canada's second-largest airline announced last month that it planned to offer daily, non-stop flights to Dublin from St John's, Newfoundland, on its Boeing 737 aircraft.
Taking off on June 15, introductory fares meant passengers flying from St John's to Dublin paid about €275 for a return flight.
Passengers connecting on to Toronto and back paid about €430.
A company spokesman said its first foray into this market was a learning curve for the airline.
He also said it was weighing up the business opportunities available in Ireland and whether to extend services to other airports here.
"It was a chance for us to test the waters, but we've never seen a new service sell that quickly before.
"Within hours of the introductory fares going on sale they were all gone. The buzz about it was absolutely incredible.
"We are now considering whether to extend it to other airports in Ireland or the UK -- that decision hasn't been made yet.
"But Dublin will be our first transatlantic venture and the consumer interest in Ireland has been astounding."
He added: "There are a lot of employment opportunities currently in Canada -- so some of those travelling would be moving here for work -- while others are family visiting loved ones in the country."
Canada has over the past few years emerged as a key destination for young Irish people seeking jobs abroad.
Providing lower-cost transatlantic services is becoming an increasingly serious proposition for Europe's budget carriers.
Industry experts say this segment of the market may become the next battleground to provide sharply reduced fares, particularly if Europe's biggest budget carrier Ryanair gets set for a transatlantic take-off.
Michael O'Leary has spoken of his desire to one day offer $10 (about €7.25) flights between Europe and the USA.
Asked how he could afford to charge so little for services between Europe and the US, Mr O'Leary replied: "Brilliantly talented management."