Aer Lingus reveals new transatlantic route in bumper 2018 schedule
Philadelphia, here we come... Aer Lingus has announced a new, direct flight from Dublin to Pennsylvania's largest city.
The new route will operate four times weekly on a Boeing 757 from next March 25th, and competes directly with an existing service by American Airlines.
Fares will start from €199 each-way, when booked as a return trip.
The announcement was made during Aer Lingus's unveiling of its 2018 summer schedule. Next year will see the airline's largest ever transatlantic programme, it says, with total capacity to North America reaching 2.75 million seats on 14 routes.
Since its acquisition by IAG in 2015, Aer Lingus has received four new long-haul aircraft, opening up new routes to Los Angeles, Newark, Hartford and Miami.
Additional transatlantic expansion next year will include twice-daily flights to Chicago and a daily service to both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Transatlantic traffic booms
The expansion comes at a time of booming transatlantic air travel - Dublin Airport's traffic to North America is up 67pc in the past five years, while North American visitors to Ireland have increased 17.9pc between January and August of this year alone.
Both Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport, with its US Customs and Border Protection Preclearance facilities, are driving to build a major gateway for transatlantic traffic in Europe.
They're not alone - United, Delta and American Airlines all operate US services from Dublin, and Norwegian launched new low-cost flights from Dublin, Cork and Shannon this summer, a move Aer Lingus followed with its own €169 "unbundled" fare offering.
Aer Lingus will also add eight Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft to its fleet in 2019 and 2020 (the narrow-body aircraft can serve both long and short-haul routes, with business and economy classes) and another new Airbus A330 will be delivered at the end of 2017.
The airline has been examining a potential seasonal service to Las Vegas.
Summer 2018 in Europe
Today also saw Aer Lingus announce its European schedule for summer 2018.
No new routes were revealed, but the airline does plan to add an additional 96,000 seats on services including Malaga, Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon, Prague and Vienna.
Flights to Sicily (Catania) and Split in Croatia will increase from two to three weekly, it says, with six weekly flights to Prague and eight to Venice.
Fuerteventura will increase to twice-weekly, Camino fans will get five weekly flights to Santiago de Compostela, and Dubrovnik will become a daily summer service.
"Each new Aer Lingus transatlantic route opens up new tourism and business opportunities and builds connectively to the Dublin Gateway," Mike Rutter, Chief Operating Officer said.
The airline is currently recruiting for cabin crew, and will soon launch a recruitment drive for pilots, resulting in more than 100 new jobs in 2018.
The eight new Airbus A321LR aircraft will add a further 700 jobs, he said.
Read more:Aer Lingus announces new 'low-cost' transatlantic fares... with paid bags, seats and blankets