Aer Lingus accused of cynical Shannon stunt

Aer Lingus accused of cynical Shannon stunt

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Aer Lingus has been accused of engaging in a cynical PR exercise – Photo: © Pat Flynn, 2014

Aer Lingus has been accused of engaging in a “cynical PR exercise” following confusion over it’s plans to operate year-round transatlantic services from Shannon.

Following an announcement last July, it has been repeatedly reported that the airline would resume year-round transatlantic operations between Shannon and the US cities of New York and Boston.

News of plans to resume year-round services for the first time since 2009 was widely welcomed by national and local public representatives as well as tourism and business groups.

Three Fine Gael Oireachtas members in Clare and the county’s Mayor all issued statements at the time welcoming the news.

It emerged this week however that only Boston will be served year-round and that flights to New York will be halted for the first three months of 2015.

Aer Lingus has now been accused of allowing this confusion to continue for almost a year and with failing to correct reporting of it’s plans for the mid west airport.

Recently retired Shannon Town and Clare County Councillor Patricia McCarthy says however she’s ‘extremely disappointed but not surprised” by the airlines latest stunt.

“Aer Lingus involved themselves in a cynical PR exercise last July when the language used announcing routes, jobs and the type of aircraft to be deployed was ambiguous to say the least. What is really despicable about their behaviour is the fact that they allowed, what now appears to be a false assumption on all our parts, to go uncorrected or challenged,” the former Mayor of Clare said.

“Until Aer Lingus gives a clear explanation for why they did not make a clear statement on the period of the services when announcing the type of aircraft one can only assume that it was because they were intent on getting maximum customers for what are now “summer services” once again abusing our proven commitment to supporting airlines who operate out of Shannon Airport,” Ms McCarthy added.

The confusion is being blamed on a statement from Aer Lingus issued in July 2013 which wasn’t entirely clear what routes would be served all year.

The statement said: “Two Boeing B757 aircraft will be based in Shannon and will be used to deliver increased frequency on existing services to Boston and New York. Year-round connections from Shannon to the east-coast will be introduced.”

The airline has now said: “This ‘year-round’ reference relates to the Boston route, which prior to the announcement did not operate in the January to March period. At no point did Aer Lingus announce a Shannon to New York service during the January to March period.”

“Aer Lingus has been entirely clear of its operating plan from the outset of our announcement of our transatlantic expansion in July of last year. There has been no change to our planned schedule,” the spokesman added.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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