A NEW air link to Ireland designed to boost transatlantic travel has been announced at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Aer Lingus Regional, returning to the Yeadon airport after a gap of 14 years, will start a double daily return service to Dublin from Thursday, October 23.

Regional business leaders joined members of the media at a packed press conference, announcing the new flights, today.

Aer Lingus hopes the service will appeal to both business passengers from both countries and those seeking to travel between the UK and North America while taking advantage of Dublin's US Customs and Border Pre-Clearance facility.

Chief commercial of Aer Lingus Regional, Simon Fagan, described that feature as "a huge time saver" that would deliver clear benefits to transit passengers joining connecting flights in Ireland.

He said: "We'll have a morning service from Leeds at 8.30am every morning, just in time to meet the Aer Lingus first wave of flights to North America and Canada.

"We'll have you from Leeds to New York in nine hours, 55 minutes - there is no quicker way."

Scheduled to suit day return business trips, the service will include two departures to Dublin, at 8.30am and 6.05pm, between Monday and Saturday, with flights in the other direction leaving Dublin at 6.50am and 4.25pm.

There will also be a Sunday service leaving Leeds Bradford Airport at 12.10pm and 6.05pm.

Aer Lingus is aiming to attract 70,000 passengers in its first year and is predicting the service will give Yorkshire's tourism, as well as business, a boost.

Mr Fagan said: "There's huge potential for US tourists to use the service as the quickest and most convenient way to access Yorkshire.

"We have the potential to grow this route to three or four flights a day and really open up the connectivity between Leeds and the US."

Leeds Bradford Airport's chief executive, John Parkin, added: "We're absolutely delighted to welcome such a long-standing and prestigious brand as Aer Lingus to the airport.

"This announcement will provide increased choice for business and leisure passengers flying to the Dublin hub.

"In addition to introducing a business friendly schedule between the two growing city regions of Leeds and Dublin, the opportunity for passengers to connect to Aer Lingus' expanding North American network will offer a wider range of connections across the US and Canada."

He added that the airport would also be looking forward to welcoming "increasing numbers" of visitors from America and Ireland.