Next summer will see a major increase in capacity on US-Irish air services, according to the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

New and expanded trans atlantic services at Dublin and Shannon airports will deliver almost 270,000 extra seats between Ireland and the United States next summer, which is a 20% increase on this year.

“This is a very significant expansion of air capacity between the US and Ireland, and represents a major vote of confidence in the Irish market,” according to DAA Strategy Director, Vincent Harrison.

Next year we will have new routes from American Airlines, United and US Airways and also additional capacity on existing services from Aer Lingus and US Airways.”

The new routes and expansions that have already been confirmed for services between the United States and Ireland next year will grow the number of available seats during the summer season to just under 1.7 million.

The major jump in transatlantic air capacity coincides with The Gathering, an Irish Government backed initiative, supported by DAA, to welcome home the Irish diaspora to a series of events and festivals throughout the year.

“We are constantly working to win new business for our three airports and we’re delighted with the significant expansion in transatlantic capacity for next year,” Mr Harrison said. “DAA will be working closely with its airline customers, tourism agencies and other stakeholders to help promote these additional services on both sides of the Atlantic,” he added. 

At Dublin Airport, American Airlines is launching a new Dublin-JFK service, and US Airways will operate a larger Boeing 767 aircraft on its Dublin-Philadelphia route, which will add 16% more seats. Aer Lingus is also adding new transatlantic flights from Dublin next summer; with four extra Dublin-Chicago flights per week and three extra Dublin-Boston flights per week.

The added transatlantic capacity at Dublin means that Dublin Airport will have 12 daily scheduled flights to 9 different US airports next summer. “Dublin Airport will have better connectivity to the United States next summer than Gatwick or Manchester airports,” according to Harrison.

Shannon Airport will also see a major uplift in scheduled transatlantic services for next year. United Airlines is launching a new Shannon-Chicago summer service from June 6 and US Airways is resuming its Shannon-Philadelphia service on May 22, after a four-year absence. Next summer, Shannon Airport will have up to six flights per day to five different US airports.

Transatlantic routes to Ireland are heavily dependent on the leisure segment of the market, as up to 55% of passengers are holiday makers, with a further 20% visiting friends and relatives.

North American residents account for 54% of passengers on transatlantic routes to Ireland, with Republic of Ireland residents accounting for 34% of passengers. Passengers resident in other countries, including the UK, make up the remaining 14% of travellers on transatlantic routes into Ireland. Dublin Airport is seeing significant growth this year from British and European passengers transferring onto US connections at Dublin and availing of US preclearance facilities, while a daily BA service from London City to New York operates stops via Shannon.

Last year, just over 1.8 million people took direct flights between the Republic of Ireland and North America, the same number as in 2010.