Both Aer Lingus and Ireland West Airport have said talks are ongoing to introduce scheduled transatlantic pilgrimage flights from New York and Boston in the future.

The announcement was made following the arrival of the first chartered transatlantic pilgrimage flight by Aer Lingus to Knock earlier today.

The plane flying from New York's JFK Airport arrived shortly after 7.30am, nearly 30 minutes earlier than expected, with 178 pilgrims on board led by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Aer Lingus Chief Executive Stephen Kavanagh were among the welcoming party at the Co Mayo airport.

Mr Kavanagh and Knock Airport MD Joe Gilmore said talks are ongoing to establish regular scheduled flights from New York and Boston in the future.

Almost 4,000 people attended a special midday mass in the newly refurbished Basilica at Knock.

It was celebrated by Parish Priest of Knock Fr Richard Gibbons and the Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.