AER LINGUS has announced a new route from Ireland West Airport Knock to London’s Heathrow.
The new service - which aims to “support connectivity for the West of Ireland and boost the local economy and tourism” – will launch on March 26 and operate daily, the Irish airline has confirmed.
“While customers from the West of Ireland can avail of 15 direct Aer Lingus North American routes from Dublin and Shannon Airports, this London Heathrow service will enable them to connect to destinations right across the globe via the UK’s largest and busiest airport,” an Aer Lingus spokesperson said.
“The majority of visitors to Ireland are from Great Britain (42%), followed by the US (15%), and this new route aims to boost direct and connecting inbound tourism to the West,” they added.
Reid Moody, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Aer Lingus, explained: “Our new route from Knock to London Heathrow, accompanied with further network connectivity for our customers, is exciting for Aer Lingus and for the West of Ireland.
“With a direct service to one of Europe’s busiest airports, customers from the West will now be able to easily connect from Heathrow to destinations right across the globe.
“The service will also drive inbound tourism at a time when interest in visiting the West of Ireland is very high, with the Oscar-nominated Banshees of Inisherin showcasing the beauty of the West of Ireland to millions of people globally.”
Welcoming the news, Joe Gilmore, Managing Director at Ireland West Airport, said: “The airport is absolutely delighted to welcome the announcement of a new daily service to London Heathrow with Aer Lingus.
“This is a major development for the West and Northwest regions as it opens up key onward connectivity, through one of Europe’s biggest hubs, to over 80 destinations worldwide.
“The hub status of Heathrow for businesses to connect with the global marketplace is a potential game changer for this region, and from a tourism perspective the service will deliver a significant increase in tourism visits from all corners of the globe.
“I have no doubt the service will get huge support from the business community and leisure travellers both here and abroad and we thank Aer Lingus for this strong vote of confidence in the airport and West of Ireland region.”
Tourism Ireland has also welcomed news of the new route, with CEO Niall Gibbons claiming it’s “really good news for tourism to Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way, as we continue to restore growth in inbound tourism”.
He explained: “As an island destination, we know there’s a proven direct correlation between access and growth in visitor numbers, so this new flight will certainly help boost visitor numbers from Britain.
“Tourism Ireland is committed to working with Aer Lingus, Ireland West Airport Knock and our other key partners, to drive demand for this new flight, and all other services to Ireland, and help maintain our vital network of routes and services.”
He added: “Great Britain remains a very important market for tourism to the island of Ireland, delivering around 42 per cent of all our overseas visitors.
“In 2019, we welcomed almost 4.8 million British visitors, whose visits generated approximately €1.45 billion for the economy.”
Aer Lingus’ new route will replace the current Aer Lingus service to London Gatwick, which will cease operations on March 25, 2023.
Customers already booked on this route will be automatically rebooked on a same day flight, the airline has confirmed.