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Plan to lure airline to Connecticut with $5m subsidy hits turbulence


Stephen Kavanagh

Stephen Kavanagh

Stephen Kavanagh

Aer Lingus is being drawn into a growing controversy in the United States over plans by the governor of Connecticut to lure the airline to the eastern seaboard state.

Connecticut has been courting Aer Lingus for months, trying to encourage it to launch a service between Dublin and the state's Bradley International Airport - an airport that has no transatlantic services.

Now the state's governor, Dannel Malloy, has earmarked a $5m (€4.7m) subsidy in his latest budget that would be used to subsidise such a service.

But there's been a backlash to the plan in the local press.

"The money should be spent elsewhere, particularly at a time when the governor is proposing to make significant cuts to social service programmes and raise new tax revenues from businesses," the editorial in the local 'Hartford Business Journal' argued yesterday.

"What assurances do we have that a flight to Dublin can be sustained after the government subsidy runs out?" the newspaper added. "We haven't seen an overly convincing argument yet."

Last November, Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh, who was then the airline's chief strategy and planning officer, attended a function in Connecticut sponsored by the state's airport authority.

Declan Kearney, a spokesman for Aer Lingus said: "We have grown our transatlantic network considerably in recent years and are always assessing new potential routes."

He added: "The addition of Dublin to Washington DC in two weeks' time is our only confirmed transatlantic route launch this year. There are naturally others under consideration but we have no further announcements to make at this point in time."

It's difficult to see Aer Lingus opting to fly to Connecticut, even with a subsidy being provided.

The state is sandwiched between Massachusetts to the north and New York to the west and south.

Both Boston and New York are heavily serviced by Aer Lingus from both Dublin and Shannon, while US carriers also serve New York from Ireland.

Bradley International Airport hasn't had a transatlantic service since 2009, when a route to Amsterdam was discontinued.

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