Airline to offer direct flights to Ireland at SFO

SFO -- Aer Lingus, the Irish airline, launched nonstop service on Sunday between San Francisco International Airport and Dublin.

Demand is being fueled by one of the nation's biggest Irish communities in the Bay Area, as well as Ireland's computer and software manufacturing boom that has ties to Silicon Valley.

The airline has four round-trip flights per week from SFO, with some introductory one-way fares as low as $199 in economy class for travel in January and February. Those fares are available for a 36-hour window Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon at Aerlingus.com. One-way fares in November and December increase to over $248.

"There are strong cultural and business bonds between Ireland and the Bay Area, and we look forward to a popular service," said Jack Foley, executive vice president for Aer Lingus in North America.

The flights depart at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arriving the next day at 8:15 a.m..

The launch is the latest in a flurry of new airline service at SFO.

Cathay Pacific Airways added an additional SFO/Hong Kong flight last week, beefing up already growing travel between the Bay Area, China and Hong Kong.

Discount king Southwest Airlines launched 18 daily flights between SFO and San Diego, Las Vegas and Chicago in August.

Burlingame-based low-fare carrier Virgin America added new service to Las Vegas earlier this month, after launching its airline in August with flights to New York and Los Angeles.

Discounter JetBlue also arrived at SFO in May with service to New York, further solidifying SFO as a player in a discount airfare market.

On Oct. 4, the world's biggest passenger jet landed at SFO, a move expected to usher in a new era of airline transportation.

The double-deck Airbus A380 that carries more than 500 passengers came to SFO partly because the airport is one of the first in the nation to be ready to handle the huge aircraft.

Aer Lingus' low-fare model is partly due to the carrier selling 70 percent of its tickets online.

"The airport's excited to get Aer Lingus, and we think it's a great addition to our international service," said Mike McCarron, SFO spokesman. McCarron said the airport has been trying four or five years to land the airline.

Many Irish expatriates previously had to travel to Los Angeles to catch a nonstop Aer Lingus flight to Ireland. Or they flew to New York or Boston, and caught a flight to Ireland from there.

With three daily flights from Los Angeles International Airport, the new service means Aer Lingus has daily service from the West Coast to Ireland.

Business writer Tim Simmers can be reached at 650-348-4361 or by e-mail at tsimmers@sanmateocountytimes.com .


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