176578119Mayor of Waterford John Cummins has welcomed the establishment of a new direct air link between Dublin and Newfoundland, home to thousands of Waterfordian descendants.
Speaking to The Munster Express, Mayor Cummins described WestJet’s decision to initially operate a service between June 15th and October 5th of next year as “a tremendous development” for both Waterford and Newfoundland.
Mayor Cummins, who visited St John’s, Newfoundland in September last, said the new link could strengthen the bond between the south east and the Canadian province which has strong links to Waterford, South Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford.
“This is fantastic news and I believe there’ll be a considerable buy-in from both sides of the Atlantic thanks to this new air connection.
“And having been there, having seen people you’d expect to meet down the road at home, the way Newfoundlanders use phrases like ‘Mother of God’ and ‘How’s it going?’, the similarity of our accents, and so much more besides, to have a greater connection like this is great news.
“While we’d love to have a service operating to Newfoundland out of Waterford when the runway at Killowen can accommodate jet aircraft, the most important thing that had to be done in the here and now was to secure the route.
“A 90-minute drive from Dublin Airport to Waterford is a short spin by Newfoundland standards, so we don’t have to worry about people from the province not travelling to the south east merely because of touching down on the runway 100 miles north of here.
“This is a new opportunity to further enhance a link which has been so welcomingly revived in recent years by communities in both the south east and Newfoundland.”
According to WestJet’s Chris Avery: “This is an exciting time for us as we bring our unique brand of low fares and award-winning guest experience to a whole new market.”
The WestJet service will operate next summer with a flight time of less than five hours aboard a Boeing 737-700.
Flights shall leave depart Dublin at 8.20am, arriving in St John’s at 9.55am with the return flight leaving St John’s at 11.15pm and touching down in Dublin at 7am the following morning.
Said Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar: “Newfoundland was the site of the earliest migration from Ireland to North America, especially from the south east
“Known as ‘Talamh an Eisc’ in Irish (the land of fish), Newfoundland is the only place name outside of Ireland or Britain which has a distinctive Gaelic name.
“This new route offers opportunities to develop connections and co-operation in the area of oil and gas, fisheries and maritime.”
Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn, who has worked hard to promote the Canada-Ireland link with his Irish counterpart Ray Bassett, believes the service will “lead to increased business and tourism traffic between Atlantic Canada and Ireland…
“All of those in Canada and Atlantic Canada with Irish roots will be especially pleased with the new service and that credit must go to the Dublin Airport Authority for their hard work which had helped win the business.”
Mayor Cummins concluded: “This new link will go a long way to consolidating the bonds which have tied Waterford and the south east with Newfoundland for the better part of 200 years – and it’s difficult not to overstate the potential benefits of this new air corridor, which brings St John’s twin city closer to it than ever before.”