Aer Lingus has launched its new direct flights to Los Angeles. The three times a week service will originate in Shannon but will also serve Dublin, and will open up gateways to Japan, New Zealand and Australia, for Irish customers. The first Aer Lingus flight to Los Angeles took off from Shannon shortly before noon today.

A £120m long range Airbus A330-200, capable of sustaining the 11-hour flight by means of an enlarged fuel capacity, and able to carry 268 passengers, will be used on the new service. Demand has already been good with 20,000 seats pre-booked. Ireland has become a popular destination for the entertainment industry out of Los Angeles and the new service is designed to meet that demand, as well as responding to tourism and commercial interests here at home for a direct service to the American West Coast.

Aer Lingus has recommended that its global partner for the future should be the 'One World' alliance group, consisting of British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Quantas and Canadian Airlines. If this is sanctioned by the Minister, then that partnership will open the Asian and Australian market to Irish passengers.