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88% increase in 2014 Shannon-Chicago capacity

UNITED Airlines have announced they will run services between Shannon and Chicago again next year but there will be 88% more capacity on the route in 2014.

They started a Shannon-Chicago service this summer, after a number of years without any link to the Windy City, and this week a spokesman said things had gone very well, leading to the decision to increase the amount of capacity next year.

The majority of those using the service are Americans and the decision to renew and extend the route will provide a boost to Clare tourism interests.

On Wednesday, United managing director sales for Britain and Ireland, Bob Schumacher lauded the 2013 performance.

“We are not only returning but returning with a lot more seats on the market and we’re extending the season from mid-May to mid-September. That’s all systems go. We’re very pleased with how it’s performed this year and looking forward to something similar next year.”

While declining to give the load factor on the Shannon-Chicago service, he said it had “very closely mirrored” the overall Europe-US figure of 85%.

This year, United operated five flights a week on the Shannon-Chicago route during the June to August period. Next year they will operate for a longer period, from May 23 to September 15, and at a higher frequency. There will be five flights per week from May 23 to June 16 and from August 19 to September. There will be daily flights during the June 17-August 18 period and four per week during the period from September 2-15.

While there were fears that Shannon could lose US connectivity completely after the final termination of the stopover some years ago, that was not borne out and there has been a very significant improvement this year, with new services to Chicago and Philadelphia seeing a major rise in transatlantic passenger numbers.

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