John Hartnett, President and Founder of the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) and one of the most senior Irish-American business executives in the US has called for a direct flight from Dublin to San Jose.
He believes it is vital that executives can be within easy reach of Silicon Valley, the central hub for technology companies.
He said serious measures are required to maintain Ireland's standing in the worldwide technology industry. The Facebook group – “Direct flight - Ireland to Silicon Valley NON Stop!!” (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=158255310851881 )was launched just a few weeks ago by Hartnett and now has almost 700 members. It has also become a top discussion for the “Innovation Ireland” group on LinkedIn.
Business travellers between Silicon Valley Ireland now have to spend up to 20 hours, stopping over at least in one U.S. city or London Heathrow, while a direct flight takes only 11 hours. Hartnett believes that it is crucial for the future success of Irish Business and the Irish Economy to have a direct flight to Silicon Valley. “I understand that profitability of a single route is important for Aer Lingus, however this type of tactical decision could choke Ireland’s ambition to be the "smart economy" and badly damage the IDA's Job creation goals. The Irish Government are spending $10 Billion from 2007 to 2013 on innovation - this situation is penny wise and pound foolish. We need clear vision and decisive action to break the strangle hold.”
”We are making some great progress. Our Facebook group membership has doubled this week and we have finalised a letter in partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group that will be signed by most of the execs & CEOs of Silicon Valley that have operations in Ireland. We still really need everybody effected by this issue’s help to highlight the problem and press for a solution”, said Hartnett.
“We need an airline to take up the challenge and reintroduce this route and make it the success it once was. In the last week we have raise the issue with the Taoiseach, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, the Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan and the Consul General in California, Gerry Staunton. We are now planning to meet the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey as well as the CEOs of Aer Lingus and the DAA. Aer Lingus has now renegotiated terms with cabin crew, which may facilitate them re-introducing a direct service to the West Coast. We also believe there is an opportunity to attract Air India as part of their stop over on US flights.”