TOURISM chiefs are hoping to attract more visitors from the USA to Dorset as flights from Bournemouth become a reality.
In a move welcomed by bosses, the Daily Echo can reveal that Aer Lingus will re-schedule its flight from the airport to Dublin from 4.05pm to 12.10pm from July.
Crucially, that means it will land in the Irish capital in time to meet onward flights to the United States, waiting only two hours for a connection.
Flights will also increase from four days a week to six.
Passengers will be able to check-in directly through to their final destination – New York, Boston or Chicago – and will also be able to clear US Customs in Ireland. Fliers leaving Bournemouth at lunchtime would be in New York for dinner.
But what tourism and business bosses hope is that it will bring more people in the other direction.
Mark Smith, director of Bournemouth Tourism, said: “The proposed new timetable from Bournemouth to Dublin will open up a wealth of opportunities for both in-bound tourism and also for Bournemouth residents.
“Being able to clear customs in Dublin rather than at US airports makes flying from Bournemouth enormously appealing.
“The new timetable heralds not only a new era for Bournemouth Airport but provides unprecedented new business opportunities.”
Bruce Grant-Braham, a board member of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and the Poole Tourism Partnership chairman added: “This is fantastic news for the airport and for Dorset.
“It gives Dorset the opportunity to sell itself in the US market and we know from tourist research the US loves the idea of Dorset’s coastline and history.
“We need to crank the pressure up on ourselves to make sure there is potential to bring Americans to us – and wouldn’t that be fantastic?”
Aer Lingus has not officially announced the move, but following enquiries from the Echo, yesterday confirmed its plans.
A spokesman said: “Aer Lingus Regional is delighted to be able to transport Bournemouth passengers to the USA via Dublin from July.
“Bournemouth-based passengers will avail of access to the pre-clearance facility at Dublin Airport, clearing both passport control and customs and excise prior to their Dublin-US flight. Ireland is the only country outside North America to offer this.”
A Bournemouth Airport spokesperson added: “We look forward to seeing this develop with improvements to the frequency and connection times, which will put America within reach for leisure and business travellers from Bournemouth and the wider region.”