Aer Lingus is to fly a four-times weekly service between Dublin and Seattle from mid May of next year.

Seattle is the airline's 15th transatlantic destination - and the sixth announced since it was acquired by British aviation group IAG.

According to Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh, the city was an obvious choice given the potential for tourism and business.

"We see strong demand between Ireland and Seattle but we also see strong demand between Seattle and Europe," he said. "Increasingly as we use Dublin as a gateway, these new opportunities to connect Europe and North America really is what's driving the Aer Lingus growth story."

That growth will see the airline offer 2.75 million seats on its transatlantic routes next year - well in excess of the number of people travelling between Ireland and the US.

However Mr Kavanagh does not feel this is too high a figure - as it will leave plenty of space for people coming from and going to other locations.

"We are, of course, serving our primary market of Ireland and North America," he said. "But we're adding those customers who use Aer Lingus services across our European networks and across our North American networks to make journeys that they can combine themselves.

"So we're competing in a marketplace of 75 million rather the demand too and from the island of Ireland - that's what's driving our business and the geography of Dublin is creating a unique advantage for Aer Lingus in that context."

One of the markets Aer Lingus has tapped into is the network of smaller airports in Britain - with Aer Lingus Regional ferrying passengers from the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and Bristol who then take flights across the Atlantic Ocean.

That kind of journey is vulnerable to a hard Brexit - which in its worst iteration could see significant disruption to air travel between Britain and the EU as a result of the breakdown of the Open Skies agreement.

However Mr Kavanagh is confident it will not come to that - and feels the business is well enough diversified either way.

"Ultimately we're confident that agreement will be reached between the EU and the UK but even in the context of a hard Brexit I think traffic flows will continue," he said.

"As well as the UK we have significant operations across Europe and increasingly it's in Europe that our opportunity is where US customers, principally wanting to visit European cities such as Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona - they're using Dublin as a gateway to get there."

However Aer Lingus are not the only ones to spot the opportunity that exists in US-EU travel - with many other operators building their transatlantic offerings in recent years.

Mr Kavanagh said that has kept them competitive - with the airline recently announcing a new 'no-frills' option for some flights that significantly cuts the cost of a ticket.

However he said they were also making more profit than ever before and enjoying their best rates of growth yet - and he is confident they will continue to hold their own in the market.

That growth does hinge on its base at Dublin Airport - but relations between the two sides has not been on a positive footing in recent times.

IAG boss Willie Walsh previously criticised the airline over its investment plan, while last month Aer Lingus' chief operating officer Mike Rutter said things had soured considerably between the airline and the airport.

"I think we've got to find a constructive dialogue," Mr Kavanagh said, before adding that there were signs of hope coming from his meetings with the new DAA CEO Dalton Philips. "We've met, we understand both the opportunity and the challenges, and we'll find ways collaboratively to progress."

Mr Kavanagh said they ultimately wanted more pro-active investment at the airport - which would give them a better idea of what was ahead, from which they could plan accordingly.