United Airlines celebrates 20 years at Shannon

United Airlines celebrates 20 years at Shannon


The carrier is celebrating 20 years at Shannon Airport – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

United Airlines is marking 20 years of its nonstop service between Shannon and New York/Newark.

Since its launch in June 1998, the service has carried over 1.9 million customers on more than 13,500 flights.

“We are delighted to mark 20 years of our nonstop service from Shannon to New York/Newark” said Bob Schumacher, United Airlines’ Managing Director Sales, United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Since 1998, our service has allowed our customers from the West of Ireland to take advantage of our extensive route network from our New York/Newark hub that today offers 75 nonstop connections across the US, Canada and Mexico,” he added.

Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy said: “This is a very important milestone.  Not only does it mark 20 years of flying, it marks 20 years of supporting tourism and industry in this region. Newark is such an accessible airport and New York is, of course, the most popular city in terms of transatlantic services between Ireland and the US.  We appreciate United Airlines’ commitment in serving Shannon for the last 20 years and look forward to celebrating the next milestone.”

Meanwhile, a Limerick man who flew on the first United Airlines flight out of Shannon in 1998 found himself on the 20th anniversary flight today.

The Newark flight was receiving the celebratory water canon salute to mark the anniversary as it pulled onto the taxiway at Shannon when the penny dropped for father-of-three Shane Clifford from Annacotty, that he was actually on the very first United flight that departed Shannon 20 years ago.

Isabel Harrison, Shannon Airport with Shane Clifford who flew on the first United flight to New York in 1998 – Photo: Arthur Ellis.

“You never really expect things to come full circle in life and it’s scary when they do,” he laughed as he explained the incredible coincidence. The pilot announced to us when we landed that the aircraft would be getting the water cannon salute and it then dawned on me that I was on the very first flight from here with United 20 years ago,” Shane said.

“I left Shannon after graduating from UL in1998 and never intended to stay in the States but life takes you a different path and I’m there 20 years now, happily married with three children. Last thing I expected when I landed in Shannon that I would be getting free coffee and croissants to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a flight that took me out of here in the first place,” he added.

Shane, who works in financial services in New York and lives in New Jersey with his wife Tricia and three sons Liam, Owen and Sean, is back in Ireland to attend a wedding of former UL college mate and adventurer Paul Gleeson, well known for his rowing exploits, including his Atlantic crossing of 2006.

The Limerick man wasn’t the only passenger getting attention as another to disembark was one of American football’s best known stars, JJ Watt, of the Houston Texans, who was jetting into the West of Ireland for a short break.

Photo: Arthur Ellis