Belfast Telegraph

Dublin sets sights on direct flights to Asia

By John Mulligan

Direct flights between Dublin and Asia are a possibility within two years, the Dublin Airport Authority has said.

It hopes that non-stop flights between the Irish capital and China will be the first route to come on stream in the short term.

DAA chief executive Kevin Toland said that Ireland "is now on the radar in China for direct air connectivity".

"It's a question of time. Our job is to make that sooner rather than later," Mr Toland said.

The airport is also interested in securing direct connectivity to other countries in Africa, as well as the United States.

Dublin Airport is twinned with Beijing Capital International Airport since last year, "for very obvious reasons", said Mr Toland, who predicted that a Chinese carrier will be the most likely candidate to inaugurate a service to Dublin.

His comments came as Ryanair announced five new winter routes out of Shannon Airport in Limerick.

The schedule, which starts at the end of October, will see Ryanair operate Paris, Berlin, Fuerteventura, Warsaw and Krakow routes, none of which were on last year's winter season services at Shannon.

The routes were among nine new services which commenced in April this year at Shannon.

In all, Ryanair will operate 10 routes this winter, five more than last year.

Some 15 new Ryanair routes have opened in Shannon since the airport became independent from the Dublin Airport Authority but Ryanair's David O'Brien confirmed that the airline would not be opening any new routes in the DAA-operated Cork Airport this year.

"Shannon's independence and Shannon's initiatives set it apart from Cork," he said. "I'm not going to muse on the internal workings of the DAA as it relates to Cork.

"I am simply saying that the initiatives here in Shannon give us the confidence to apply more capacity here and the price in Cork is frankly too high."

Shannon Airport has enjoyed a resurgence since it was made independent in January of last year. Its first year of independence saw significant gains, in particular, on transatlantic services with a range of new flights.

However, the real growth this year is in European routes, mostly thanks to the addition of nine new Ryanair services.

Yesterday's announcement of five new Ryanair services also helps to ensure more visitors to the West and South of Ireland in the off-peak season.

Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey said: "The timing... couldn't be better for the rising numbers selecting Shannon as an easy gateway for both business as well as holiday flights."

Ryanair's growth at Shannon from November will also mean increased flights to and from London Stansted increasing from 12 to 14 per week.

Belfast Telegraph