There's never been a better time than now to book your tickets to Ireland with Aer Lingus - let's go!
Bill Byrne is the Interim Chief Customer Officer for Aer Lingus and is central to helping the airline realize its vision to be the heart of travel, through Ireland and beyond for generations to come.
IrishCentral chats to Bill about his Irish heritage, why after 85 years Aer Lingus is still the trusted airline carrier for those seeking an Irish adventure, his personal hidden gem on the island, and why this year is the best time to pack your suitcases and travel to Ireland.
Why do you think Aer Lingus stands out compared to other airline companies, especially for the Irish in America?
Aer Lingus has a proud heritage as the bridge to Ireland for the Irish in America. We have been flying from Ireland to the US for almost 50 years. We connect Ireland to the world and most importantly Ireland to the US, with a warm Irish welcome every step of the way. This connection is not a pin on the map. It’s the heart of who we are. It’s what we do.
What is your connection to Ireland, and would you be a frequent visitor to the country?
Both of my parents were born in Ireland. My father is from Dungarvan in County Waterford and my mother is from a farm near Castlebar in County Mayo. They met in the U.S. and I have family in both the US and Ireland. I visited Ireland often as a child and with my current position, I travel to Ireland every 2-3 weeks.
What has been a career highlight during your time with Aer Lingus?
Inaugurating non-stop service between Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. That brought our number of non-stops cities in the US to 13. This was huge growth for the company and provided non-stop flights in more cities where Irish Americans reside. That along with our two services to Shannon from New York and Boston represents the largest airline network to Ireland.
How did Aer Lingus cope during the pandemic and how are things looking now for the company?
Just as it was for every travel company and business in Ireland, the pandemic resulted in a closed door to the world. We flew daily from New York, Boston, and Chicago to serve essential travel and maintain supply chains. At times, we were more of a cargo carrier than a passenger carrier. Our back-office staff worked from home which was challenging to manage as it was for everyone else, and we also had to make difficult decisions to reduce the roster hours for all of our staff.
With the recent news of restrictions lifting, we have seen significant increases in travelers interested in visiting Ireland we have matched that interest with an ambitious schedule. In 2022 we will return to 10 US cities and restore all of our Shannon services. We are committed to Ireland as you would expect and the pandemic has not changed that
Now that Ireland is fully back open, do you have a personal favorite hidden gem on the island that you recommended travelers visit?
There are so many it's hard to pick one. One hidden gem is the beach in Enniscrone in County Sligo, you can’t see the US from there but it’s out there.
For those who have never experienced an "Irish welcome", how would you describe it?
It’s a warm smile, a kind word, a bit of a story and for making everyone feel like you are family. You will feel like you belong and may even hear “where have you been?”
This article is presented proudly in partnership with Aer Lingus. To learn more and to check out their great fares to Ireland click here. Keep up to date with the latest news on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.