Royal Jordanian switches European hub to Shannon

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Royal Jordanian Airlines is to re-route its transatlantic services via Shannon International airport in the west of Ireland, switching services away from the current transit point of Amsterdam.

The carrier says that flights from Amman, the Jordanian capital, to New York and Chicago in the USA will operate via Shannon, and that cargo services to New York will also be routed through the Irish airport.

Jordanian will operate daily return flights weekly to New York and three flights to Chicago during peak season. A spokesman for the carrier adds that it will use Airbus A310 aircraft on the routes - with the Lockheed L-1011 TriStars it currently employs due to be sold to American Trans Air.

The new services will provide the first non-stop links between Ireland and the Middle East, and will also restore Shannon's direct links with Chicago.

Announcing Jordanian's decision "to relocate its European hub to Shannon" during a ceremony at the airport today, Irish public enterprise minister Mary O'Rourke described the move as "a very significant development". Royal Jordanian president and CEO Nader Dahabi also attended the launch.

Says O'Rourke: "I have granted the airline local pick-up rights at Shannon to New York and Chicago which will serve to increase capacity in an already buoyant transatlantic market.

"The new cargo service through Shannon will also add valuable revenue to the airport. Royal Jordanian are also looking at basing and recruiting staff locally, thereby generating employment in the region."

Jordanian has not stated exactly when it plans to switch to Shannon, but the spokesman suggests it will make the move "within two or three months". He adds that the Chicago route may be transferred first, with New York to follow. It is not clear whether the carrier will retain the Amman-Amsterdam service once the switch is complete.