Ireland’s Aer Lingus is set to launch nonstop service in March from Philadelphia to Dublin, and is positioning itself as a value airline providing connecting service to the United Kingdom, Europe, and Abu Dhabi.
“We want to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic,” chief executive Stephen Kavanagh told a packed audience of the Irish American Business Chamber and Network at the Pyramid Club on Tuesday.
Kavanagh cited the large number of Irish Americans in the region as an impetus for making Philadelphia its 12th destination in North America. Irish companies also have more than 232 offices or facilities in Pennsylvania, he said, and Aer Lingus is courting them with offers of corporate deals.
The airline’s entry into the Philadelphia market, first announced in October, came after more than a decade of on-and-off negotiations, according to city officials and Irish chamber members.
The launch of service has “started a buzz unlike a buzz we’ve heard in this community,” James Tyrrell, chief revenue officer for the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation, told the chamber. Harold Epps, the city’s commerce director, also attended the event.
American Airlines has provided nonstop year-round service from Philadelphia to Dublin since 2003, and also provides seasonal service to Shannon International Airport in County Clare.
But Aer Lingus wants to distinguish itself with its connecting service, along with its Irish hospitality. The Philadelphia flight can connect with 21 other destinations, including 12 in Britain, eight in Europe, and Abu Dhabi in the Mideast.
Helen Maguire, director of consumer sales, said the airline is working with Irish tourism officials to encourage customers to spend a few days in Ireland before making onward connections.
Kavanagh said the airline does not have immediate plans to offer direct Philadelphia service to Shannon, however, it does provide connecting service to other Irish destinations from Dublin. “In the short term, all of our efforts are on making Philadelphia-Dublin work,” he said.
Aer Lingus will offer overnight flights four days a week starting March 25, departing at 5:30 p.m. It will transition to daily flights on May 18. The return flight arrives in Philadelphia at 4:15 p.m.
The route will use 757-200 aircraft configured with 177 seats — 12 in business class and the rest in economy class. It is offering basic round-trip economy fares to Dublin of $519 from April 2-June 14, increasing to $819 during the summer season. Business class seats start at $3,059.
Aer Lingus, which means “air fleet” in Gaelic, went public in 2006 and was acquired in 2015 by IAG, a Spanish company that also owns British Airways and Iberia.