Irish skies smiling as Aer Lingus lands 

Irish airline Aer Lingus touched down at San Francisco International Airport on Monday from Dublin, Ireland, after months of anticipation of strengthened economic and cultural ties between the two nations from the new service.

Less than an hour after the historic touchdown of the characteristic mint-green, shamrock-adorned airplane, Aer Lingus Commercial Director Enda Corneille said the airline already has designs on bumping service from four times weekly to once daily next summer.

Aer Lingus officials announced in March, right in time for St. Patrick's Day, that they would be flying nonstop flights out of SFO. There are now four nonstop flights weekly out of SFO as one of the first overseas carriers to take advantage of the Open Skies Agreement, a recently negotiated treaty relaxing longstanding restrictions on flights to and within the United States and European Union.

San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who, along with Mayor Gavin Newsom, emphasized the need for better service to Ireland, said he had been waiting for this day for 21 years, when he and his family were stuck at an East Coast airport for a connecting flight to Ireland.

"That day has finally arrived," Elsbernd said.

San Francisco-based Emer Deane, consul general of Ireland, said she is already expecting much of her family in Ireland to take advantage of the deal.

tramroop@examiner.com

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