United Airlines has announced that it will launch a new transatlantic route from Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland to Chicago,next summer.

The new route will be in addition to the hugely successful daily service to Newark which United operate on a year round basis at Shannon.

This Chicago service will generate an additional 20,000 passengers through the airport next year and provide a welcome boost for the west of Ireland in terms of business connections to the third largest city in the US, with almost three million people. It is also a significant opportunity to increase visitor numbers into the west of Ireland from this strong market for the Irish tourism product.

Welcoming the news, Mary Considine, Airport Director, said, “This is a significant boost for Shannon Airport and we are delighted to have this new service on the transatlantic market. In this challenging business environment United Airlines’ decision shows the continued appeal of Shannon and the West of Ireland product, be that tourism or business.

“United Airlines has been a strong performer at Shannon since it commenced services here in 1998. It has successfully built a year-round customer base in the West of Ireland in the business and leisure sectors. This announcement is proof that United Airlines see further opportunities for growth at Shannon and we look forward to working closely with them on delivering those extra passengers.

“The announcement is also timely in the context of the Gathering next year. There are ambitious targets for strengthening visitor numbers next year and this new Chicago service will help in that regard.”

The new flights to Chicago will operate five times a week on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, commencing on 6th June and operating until 28th August, departing Shannon at 11.00am. All United Airlines flights will use Shannon Airport’s unique US Preclearance facility, thus ensuring speedy access on arrival in the US for all passengers and those making connecting flights beyond Chicago.

United Airlines (formerly Continental), which has been operating at Shannon since 1998, has so far carried over 1.4 million passengers through the airport and is set to exceed the 1.5 million mark by the end of 2013. The Chicago route was a regular service at Shannon since 1996 and was last operated in 2009 when Aer Lingus ceased its service.

However, there has been traditional strong demand for services to the “Windy City” with over 110,000 passengers travelling in 2007 when the route was then served by both American Airlines and Aer Lingus with 14 flights a week.

Declan Power, Aviation Business Development, said he was delighted with the success that this new service brings for Shannon. “We have been working hard over the last few years to secure the return of the Chicago route and we very much appreciate all the hard work put into this by the International Planning team at United Airlines. We will be working closely with the Sales & Marketing team here in Ireland to ensure its success and that the route will grow further in both passengers and frequency over the coming years. In the meantime, we will continue to work on developing more routes for Shannon Airport and restoring growth and services for this vibrant region.”

For more information visit United.com.

Shannon Airport, in County Clare, sees 38 percent hike in US passengersGoogle Images