If IAG's proposed bid for Aer Lingus goes ahead, the airline could gain up to 2.4 million new passengers, it has said.
Aer Lingus could see two new transatlantic destinations added as early as summer 2016, IAG said in a statement this evening.
"By 2020, IAG believes that IAG and Aer Lingus could deliver up to 2.4 million more passengers, four additional destinations in North America and eight additional aircraft," it added.
Such an investment in transatlantic connectivity, if it comes to pass, would be a major boon for Irish tourism, Tourism Ireland has responded.
2014 was a record year for American visitors to Ireland – with more than one million US visitors spending over US$1 billion.
So far, US visitor figures have risen 7pc in 2015, according to the CSO.
An increase in the number of seats between North America and Ireland has underpinned this growth, with new capacity and routes from Dublin Airport meaning that, in peak periods this summer, it will operate 47 transatlantic flights a day.
In fact, Ireland now welcomes 10pc of all travellers from the United States to Europe, according to Tourism Ireland. Any additional capacity represents "a huge boost" for tourism, commented its CEO, Niall Gibbons.
“In my view, the retention of a separate Aer Lingus brand within the international IAG family gives us the best of both worlds – a strong, traditional, iconic brand supported by a great international network of one of the world’s leading airline groups," he said.
What might the new transatlantic destinations be?
No comment has been offered by either IAG or Aer Lingus, although there has been recent speculation regarding a revival of the airline's LA service.
Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport are already pushing Dublin's advantageous geographical position, and its US pre-clearance facilities, in an ambitious attempt to create a leading European hub for transatlantic traffic.
IAG’s commitment to developing Aer Lingus’s long haul capacity will be supported through an enhanced connectivity with other IAG carriers, it says, as well as the inclusion of Aer Lingus within the oneworld alliance.
The fact that Aer Lingus would join the joint business agreement that IAG operates over the North Atlantic with American Airlines and Finnair (the “North Atlantic Joint Business”) would also have an impact.
IAG's proposed takeover of Aer Lingus, first mooted last December, looks considerably more likely following the Government's decision to support the offer, announced this evening.
According to tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe, the Government now believes that a sale of its minority 25.1pc shareholding would be "the best means of securing and enhancing Ireland’s connectivity with the rest of the world".
The proposed takeover would in turn lead to "an increase in jobs at Aer Lingus, in support activities and the tourism sector and, importantly, will strengthen connectivity to and from Ireland,” said Aer Lingus chairman, Colm Barrington.
The Irish Hotels Federation and daa also welcomed this evening's announcement.
"This transaction will offer the opportunity for Aer Lingus to grow even more quickly," said daa Chief Executive, Kevin Toland.
IAG has also stated its commitment to "sustaining and growing" Aer Lingus's business at Cork, Shannon and Ireland West (Knock) airports.