Ireland and China have formally committed to seeking to establish direct air services between the two countries.

Irish transport minister Shane Ross signed a memorandum of understanding with Feng Zhenglin, the administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in Dublin today under which they agree to “facilitate the establishment of a direct air service” between their respective countries.

“The [Irish] government, Irish airports and the state agencies, such as Tourism Ireland, are working to encourage an airline to launch such services,” the Irish government says.

Speaking during the World Routes conference in Chengdu today, Dublin airport managing director Vincent Harrison told FlightGlobal that up to 100,000 people travel indirectly between Ireland and China every year.

Harrison says that increasingly Dublin’s focus is on creating direct connectivity into Asia and adds that he is “very keen to open direct services” to China and other markets in Asia. He estimates that the indirect traffic between Ireland and Asia in general amounts to 500,000 passengers per year.

Asked if he thought a Chinese or Irish airline would be best placed to open a direct route between the two countries, Harrison responds: “I think when you are opening up a new market and especially with the expectation that a lot of demand would be from Asia to Ireland, having a local brand and local sales proposition here [in Chengdu] with local carriers I think would be very valuable”.

Source: Cirium Dashboard