Irish airline Aer Lingus has launched flights to Minneapolis-St Paul airport from Dublin, marking the carrier’s 16th transatlantic route.

The new service will connect 14 regional airports in the UK with the US’s Midwest region through a connection in Dublin, with flights initially operated six times a week, increasing to a daily, year-round service from August.

Flights are operated by a Boeing 757 aircraft with both economy and business class seats available.

Aer Lingus says 21 per cent of passengers on the inaugural service earlier this week originated from UK airports, with the majority flying out of London, followed by Manchester and Edinburgh. Customers connecting from UK flights to Minneapolis can pre-clear US Immigration and Customs in Dublin, allowing them to skip the queue when they arrive in the States.

The Minneapolis-St Paul area is home to 17 Fortune 500 company headquarters, including Tagret and Best Buy. The Twin Cities have also been named as two of North America’s fastest-growing technology hubs.

CEO Sean Doyle said: “We are delighted to commence Ireland’s first and only direct service to Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota state. The Minneapolis-St Paul region holds great promise for Aer Lingus, particularly in terms of the connections we can offer to UK and European guests as well as those travelling from North America and onwards to Europe. As a destination, there is both business and leisure appeal and we’re pleased to report that we are geared up for a busy summer.”

Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates Minneapolis-St Paul International airport, added: “The Metropolitan Airports Commission is very pleased to welcome Aer Lingus to MSP airport. This is our first-ever direct, non-stop service to Dublin from MSP, so it is a historic day for us. We anticipate it will be a popular route with both business and leisure travellers.”

Aer Lingus is set to grow its transatlantic presence in the coming years, with its first Airbus A321LR aircraft due for delivery later this summer. The airline says the plane, which features improved eco-efficiency, will open new market opportunities. It plans to operate eight of the aircraft type to destinations across North America by 2020.

Earlier this year, the airline added the ability for its AerClub members to use Avios points towards the cost of their flights.

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