Crain's editorial: Flight plan

Never been to Dublin? (The one in Ireland, not near Columbus.) It's about to be easy to remedy that, while simultaneously supporting a key service addition at .

Aer Lingus in May 2023 will begin offering nonstop flights from Hopkins to Dublin, a great city well worth a visit. A bonus: It's easy to connect from Dublin to most major European destinations.

The Dublin flight, formally announced last week with great fanfare, will be the first time Cleveland has nonstop service to Europe since two Iceland-based carriers in 2018 ended operations to Reykjavik. Prior to that, the last carrier to fly nonstop to Europe from Cleveland was Continental Airlines, which offered London service that ended in 2009.

So, our recent experience with nonstop service to Europe has been a little turbulent. Making this new service last will require significant support from the business community. Ireland's tax laws have made Dublin a major corporate destination, and those easy connections to other parts of Europe should make the new flight attractive to Northeast Ohio companies. Baiju Shah, president of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, that Dublin's airport offers U.S. Preclearance, which allows travelers returning to the United States to clear customs before they board their flight home.

This new flight isn't coming cheap. The price: a three-year, $2.4 million incentive package with $825,000 from Cuyahoga County, $600,000 from the city of Cleveland, $600,000 from GCP, $275,000 from Destination Cleveland and $100,000 from Team NEO, serving as a minimum revenue guarantee payable if Aer Lingus doesn't meet certain financial targets.

It says something encouraging about the economic prospects for the flight, though, that Cleveland is the first new service for Aer Lingus since the pandemic hit.

The service also is a coup for Hopkins, which has been rebuilding passenger traffic as the economy has recovered from the pandemic, but recently ranked 16th among the 18 medium-sized North American airports surveyed in this year's J.D. Power satisfaction report.

It's in the hands of business and leisure travelers to make sure this new flight is a lasting success, not just a short-term confidence boost.