Declan Power and Yvonne Muldoon at United Airlines' 're-introduction' of the Shannon-Chicago route in 2014. The airline is to cease the service in 2018
UNITED Airlines is to cease its transatlantic flight from Shannon Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare, it has been confirmed.
The airline, which recently announced the suspension of its service from the airport to Newark, will cease the Chicago service in 2018 despite Shannon’s “best efforts” to convince it otherwise.
The seasonal summer service was launched in 2013, running – at least initially – a five times weekly non-stop route from Shannon to O’Hare.
Shannon managing director Andrew Murphy said the airport was “disappointed by United’s decision to cease its seasonal Shannon-Chicago service next year despite our best efforts and those of Tourism Ireland to reach an agreement with the airline.
“United is and remains a core and valued customer. We remain very committed to working with them and our other airline partners to continue to provide services and access to key markets. Finding a replacement carrier for the Chicago service will be a priority as will maximising the potential for Shannon in the coming years,” he added.
In a statement, United said it was "regretfully" taking the decision "because of the route’s poor financial performance. We will contact customers with bookings to re-accommodate and provide refunds where possible. We apologise for any inconvenience."
United’s recent move to suspend its daily Shannon-Newark route for the winter was described as a “bombshell” to the industry that has caused considerable disquiet among the region’s business community in the process.
The international carrier said it was suspending its daily service to Newark, New Jersey, between November 26 and March 9, saying it was in response to “a seasonal reduction in market demand”.
Local businessman and Shannon board member Tony Brazil, said of the Newark suspension: “Airlines do not have an awful lot of sympathy for 20 years of success. They are only looking at today and tomorrow".
In a robust statement issued this Wednesday evening in response to the Chicago decision, Shannon Airport noted that 2017 had seen its “largest number of transatlantic destinations for 17 years” with five airlines –Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Norwegian Air and United operating to seven destinations, including services to New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, and Stewart.
“With recently announced new services from Shannon to Toronto with Air Canada and Barcelona with Ryanair, we remain confident for the future,” said Mr Murphy.
“Air Service connectivity to key U.S. hubs is vital to grow FDI investment and tourism in the West of Ireland. With over 40% of U.S. FDI in Ireland located within the greater Shannon catchment area and Shannon being a key International Gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, Shannon Airport is fully committed to improving connectivity.
“To this end we will be meeting with a range of stakeholders, including the Department of Transport in the coming days to outline our strategy to help achieve the goals of the National Planning Framework (NPF) which aims to spread development towards regional cities.”