Today I welcomed the announcement that Aer Lingus is to operate three new US routes from next year, creating over 200 jobs for pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.

In the largest single expansion of its transatlantic network, Aer Lingus is to operate a direct service between Dublin and Los Angeles from May 2016 with five services per week. Direct daily year-round flights will start in early September from Dublin to Newark in New Jersey. And a third new route will start in late September with a daily service from Dublin to Hartford, Connecticut.

The announcement is the first evidence that the merger of Aer Lingus with IAG would improve Ireland’s connectivity and boost employment. It means that we can look forward to the biggest single expansion of the transatlantic network in the history of Aer Lingus, which is a huge vote of confidence in the company and its future. We will see the creation of over 200 high-quality jobs in the company, and many more jobs will also be secured and created by the increased visitor numbers that come with an expansion of this scale.

This also bodes well for Ireland’s sustainable, jobs-led recovery, which is seeing continued employment growth across the economy and in every part of the country. The policies that have cut our unemployment rate from over 15% to 9.4% and falling – and which have seen over 130,000 jobs created since 2012 – are delivering for the people of Ireland.