BRITISH Airways confirmed this week it was looking to expand transatlantic business through Shannon but passengers would not be embarking at the Mid-West airport.
It follows reports of last week’s address by BA boss Willie Walsh to Cork Chamber of Commerce where he said the airline was looking at expanding services from Shannon to Boston and Washington DC.
BA already operates a deluxe service from London City Airport to New York JFK. This makes a stop at Shannon outbound to refuel and to allow its mostly business passengers clear US customs and immigration in Shannon. No passengers can board at Shannon and the service does not touch down in Ireland on the return leg.
A spokesperson for IAG, the new parent group for BA following its merger with Iberia and of which Mr Walsh is chief executive, told the Limerick Leader that “the possible new services mentioned by Willie would stop in Shannon to pre-clear customs and immigration only and it is likely no passengers would board in Shannon, as is currently the case for the JFK service”.
“The service to New York has been very successful and from passenger feedback, we are looking at services from London City to new American destinations,” she added.
While the services would be of little use to Shannon passengers, it would be a boost for revenues, through landing charges and refuelling, for the airport itself.
BA services from London are designed for executive types in the British capital and spare them the inconvenience of travelling to Heathrow. All seats recline fully into flat beds, luxury dining is available and the fares reflect this.
Speaking in Limerick last year, Mr Walsh said passengers had taken to calling their stop in the Mid-West as “the Shannon shuffle”.
“Talking positively about the Shannon stopover is something I never thought I would do,” the former Aer Lingus confessed at the Kemmy Business School.