Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus is in talks to re-open a year long service to the West Coast of America.
The Irish Times reports that the carrier has opened negotiations with four airports in California.
The airline is interested in re-establishing a service to the West Coast and has held discussions with airports in San Francisco, San José, Oakland and Los Angeles
Preliminary plans center around a March 2012 launch for the new service.
Currently serving New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, Aer Lingus wants to expand its American service from Dublin.
A spokesman for the company told the Irish Times: “We are evaluating a number of options and we expect to conclude those evaluations shortly.”
Business leaders in Ireland will welcome a new route to the West Coast, two years after Aer Lingus withdrew from San Francisco.
California is currently the top connecting destination for flights out of Dublin Airport, with San Francisco and Los Angeles separately among the top five.
Aer Lingus currently offers indirect services to the west coast through code-sharing deals with United Airlines and Jet Blue and carried 96,000 passengers on routes to the US in July, down three per cent year on year.
Transatlantic traffic to the US and Canada at Dublin Airport grew by 7 per cent in June and by 8 per cent in July after the addition of flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, by US Airways.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar is also in favor of an Aer Lingus route to the West Coast.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport told the Irish Times that Aer Lingus would be able to tap into a fund of about $12million that has been set aside from the proceeds of the travel tax to promote air access.
The US-based Irish Technology Leadership Group wrote to Irish PM Enda Kenny in May calling for the re-establishment of a West Coast route which it said would present ‘a huge boost to the continuation and acceleration of economic links between Ireland and Silicon Valley’.
The letter said: “The lack of a direct route makes this journey time consuming and frustrating, and could also be misinterpreted as a representation of Ireland declining rather than embracing its technology and ‘smart economy’ future.”
The letter was signed by 63 business leaders, mayors and state agency chiefs on both side of the Atlantic.
John Hartnett, founder and president of the group, said: “We’re pushing to get it back. I think the opportunity and demand is there.
“We have lobbied Aer Lingus board members on the issue and called for a decision to be made quickly. We need to push them to make a decision one way or the other.”
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