Aer Lingus is to launch four weekly summer flights to Washington Dulles next year as it plans a further expansion of its transatlantic business.

The Irish carrier will begin Dublin-Washington in May. It already codeshares on United Airlines' five weekly flights between Dublin and Washington.

"We felt the Irish community around Washington and that includes places like Philadelphia – is asking for such a service," says airline chief executive Christoph Mueller. "It's a summer service for the time being, but we are absolutely confident that this will be successful."

The Irish carrier is to lease an additional Airbus A330 from next summer enabling it to not only begin the four weekly flights to Washington but also increase to daily its San Francisco service and add a fourth weekly rotation to Orlando.

It will also add a Boeing 767 on an ACMI basis over the peak summer season – in addition to its core long-haul fleet of eight A330s and three Boeing 757s. This will enable it to lift capacity on Shannon-Boston by operating a 210-seat 767 rather than its 177-seat Boeing 757s, and add a third daily flight on Dublin-New York over the summer.

"This will be an early-morning departure to New York bringing commuters into Manhattan before lunch and back to Ireland before midnight. We are very confident that this also will find its demand," says Mueller.

The expansion will increase Aer Lingus's transatlantic seats next summer by 12.5% and capacity in ASKs by 14%, and follows a major transatlantic expansion this year. Aer Lingus long-haul passenger grew 34% to €176 million ($220 million) in the third quarter, and Mueller notes that not only did the carrier fill its 25% additional capacity – which included new San Francisco and Toronto flights – it also sold previous unfilled capacity.

"We have proven you can expand on the North Atlantic if you keep the cost base low," he says. While much of the extra capacity and new routes are summer-only for 2015, Mueller says this is "only one step" in the airline's North Atlantic expansion. "Dublin is strongly performing as a North Atlantic hub: we have every other passenger on our transatlantic services either connecting in the United States or in Dublin into Europe," he says. "So we have established Dublin as a very successful springboard across the Atlantic."

Source: Cirium Dashboard