TORONTO — Tourism Ireland’s plan to promote Ireland as a year-round destination got a shot in the arm yesterday with the launch of Aer Lingus’ new nonstop year-round service from Toronto to Dublin.
Flights will operate daily through the summer season, on B757 aircraft with 12 business class (lie-flat) seats and 165 economy class seats. Aer Lingus will re-assess frequencies starting this fall, with the possibility of up four weekly flights during the winter.
No matter how frequently the flights operate, Aer Lingus is committed to year-round service, says Director of Sales, North America, Jeff Wright. “It’s looking like a good summer and we’re going to continue beyond summer,” he said. “Aer Lingus sees the Toronto flights as a very viable business model.” This is fourth transatlantic route launch in recent months and forms part of Aer Lingus’ significant transatlantic growth plan in 2014.
Wright added that while Ireland is intrinsic to Aer Lingus – the airline is the country’s national carrier, after all – there are also plenty of opportunities for Canadian travellers to use the Dublin flights as a jumping-off point for further travels into Europe. Aer Lingus is also partnering with Air Canada for connecting flights from other Canadian cities.
Adding Aer Lingus’ flights to the mix of new seasonal and year-round service available this year from Air Canada rouge, Transat and WestJet, Tourism Ireland will be promoting Ireland’s year-round charms, said Alison Metcalfe, Head of North America for Tourism Ireland. “The market has continued to grow and the demand is there,” she said, adding that it’s difficult to grow a destination without direct access.
“We need to re-frame the destination for Canadian travellers. People often think of Ireland as a seasonal destination because we’ve only ever had seasonal service. But you can be there in February and it can be 10 degrees and sunny.”
Tourism Ireland hopes to see 20% growth from the Canadian market by 2016, she added, and will be refocusing efforts on Western Canada while continuing the promote the destination to its primary market, Ontario.
Aer Lingus’ product includes loyalty programs like Gold Circle, and Preferred Seating (an extra $40) and Preferred Meal (an extra $20) for economy class passengers. “The meals are unbelievable, they’re restaurant-quality. We get raves about them,” said Wright.
The airline also works with travel agents and offers everything from webinars to in-agency visits. “In order to be a travel agent, you have to have a wide breadth of knowledge. It’s really challenging,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not necessarily about knowing the answer but knowing where to get the answer. Agents can always give us a call.”