SHANNON Airport is to get a direct link to one of the world’s busiest hubs after United Airlines confirmed it will start a seasonal service to Chicago O’Hare next year.
The airport anticipates the summer service - which will operate five times a week from June to August - will boost transatlantic traffic by 20,000 passengers and will provide a shot in the arm to tourism in the Mid-West.
It revives a route last operated from Shannon by Aer Lingus in 2009. Shannon has cited a strong traditional demand to and from Chicago with over 110,000 travelling between the two airports in 2007, when Aer Lingus and American Airlines were running 14 weekly flights between them.
“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,” said Shannon Airport’s aviation business development manager Declan Power.
“We will be working closely with the sales and 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.”
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar described the announcement by the world’s biggest airline as “a major boost for Shannon and the tourism industry” in the region.
Fine Gael TD for Limerick Kieran O’Donnell said: “transatlantic traffic is crucial to the future of Shannon airport. I am very pleased that the airport has successfully negotiated this deal. New routes are absolutely critical in rebuilding traffic volumes in Shannon Airport.”
United passengers will pre-clear at Shannon, giving them hassle-free access to dozens of onward connections within the USA from O’Hare.