DUBLIN (WWLP) – The first direct flight from Bradley International Airport to Dublin, Ireland landed Thursday morning. The flight landed at around 5:00 local time, which is midnight here in western Massachusetts.
For many local residents of Irish descent, the new direct flight provides a quicker trip to see family. Patrick Smith of Westfield, who immigrated to the United States from Ireland back in the 1980s, told 22News he much prefers the short drive to Bradley, rather than the cross-state trip to Logan International Airport.
“I will take 40 minutes, 20 minutes actually, as opposed to an hour and 40 (minutes) anytime. I think it’s great! I hope it lasts,” Smith said.
For Nula Griffin, the flight aboard the Irish carrier Aer Lingus was also about nostalgia.
“I was an airline stewardess for Aer Lingus in 1966, ’67, and ’68,” Griffin said. “I came back today to fly home.”
“I go twice a year, all my family lives in Dublin, so this is like a gift to me!”
Bradley has not hosted a trans-Atlantic flight since 2009, when direct flights to Amsterdam were discontinued. 22News asked representatives from Aer Lingus what makes this new service sustainable.
“Airlines are risk-averse; we don’t like taking chances, so we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t sustainable,” North America Aer Lingus Vice President Jack Foley said.
One of the main draws for the new Aer Lingus flight is that from Dublin, local travelers can connect to at least 25 major European cities.
“We plan to take many flights, just to make sure it’s a continuing thing,” Bill Eakins of Hartford said.
Once in the air, the Boeing 757 cruises at about 35,000 feet with 12 business class and 165 economy class passengers.
It is a six-hour flight, so you have to take into account that they are five hours ahead in Ireland. So, as soon as people get off the plane, they are ready to get some sleep. Still, there is so much to enjoy in the city of Dublin.
“We’re staying at Ross Castle while we’re there, so it’s apparently the second most haunted castle in Ireland. But I’m hoping my ancestors are nice to me and don’t come into my bed and scare me at night,” Timothy Ross of Windsor said. “Pretty much there for that and for the Guinness! It started on the trip, and we’ll be at the factory tomorrow, so that’s what it’s all about.”
The new flight doesn’t just offer western Massachusetts and Connecticut travels an opportunity to experience Europe, however. Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, says the hope is that the service will also attract business and tourism to our region.
“For a guy with the name of Brennan, this is an immensely popular day for me, but more importantly being economically competitive is all about connect. Connect to compete,” Brennan said.
22News reporter David McKay was aboard the first Aer Lingus flight to Ireland, and will show you some of the exciting things Dublin has to offer here on WWLP.com and tonight on 22News starting at 5:00.