Following news that United Airlines is to cease its seasonal transatlantic service from Shannon to Chicago from next year, Mary Gleeson, general manager of the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, has urged Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to do all in their power to reinstate the key route.
“After five years of promoting the Chicago-Shannon route to all our contacts, we are devastated to hear that United Airlines appear to be walking away from it.
“We understand that the summer period was very successful for these flights and every time I met a client who had travelled on it, I was told that the flight was full or close to it. So I find the claim that the route is no longer financially viable hard to believe.
“Surely the loss of this valuable route, in terms of regional development, particularly with the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, warrants the intervention of the Minister for Transport, and, if necessary, the Taoiseach. This route has been well warmed up over the past five years and I am convinced if a replacement is not found, it will be a very bad omen for the future of Shannon’s transatlantic traffic and the region as a whole,” Ms Gleeson said.
“The tour operators we work with like certainty and I fear that announcements like this could encourage them to start and finish their tours in Dublin, rather than in the West. There is no point in the Government appointing a rural ambassador and paying lip service to the concept of regional development if it is prepared to let a key route like the Chicago-Shannon one close at a time when the number of transatlantic routes into Ireland is actually increasing,” the Old Ground general manager added.
Meanwhile, the Irish Hotels’ Federation (IHF) has described the axing of United Airline’s Chicago-Shannon service as a disappointing development for regional tourism along the Atlantic seaboard.
“It is extremely regrettable that such connectivity should be lost from a key market. We would urge the Government agencies to find a replacement for the route as quickly as possible. Tourism is one of the few industries that can play a pivotal role in achieving a balanced national economy, a key objective set out by the Government within their National Planning Framework,” Brian Harrington, chair of the IHF’s Shannon Branch said.