By Harry Keaney
Aer Lingus is to serve as Sceptre Tours’ major carrier to Ireland from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
As part of the new agreement, Aer Lingus will provide Sceptre with more than 40,000 seats for the 1999 travel season. Aer Lingus has a total of 1.2 million seats to sell in 1999.
Aer Lingus spokesman Gerry McDermott explained that Sceptre had bought blocks of seats from Aer Lingus for specified flights, starting in June and running through September. These flights will carry only passengers who have purchased tickets from Sceptre.
However, Bert Accomando of Sceptre said that from April 30 to June 4, Sceptre passengers will be sharing Aer Lingus aircraft with other passengers; from June 4, Sceptre passengers will have aircraft to themselves. All flights will leave from the Aer Lingus terminal.
All flights will be on Aer Lingus A330 aircraft, although those who book through Sceptre will not have Aer Lingus perks such as free drinks, headsets, pre-seating, and frequent flier miles. Certain booking restrictions also apply.
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As to whether a distinction will be made between Sceptre passengers and others on the flights between April 30 and June 4, Accomando said those details had not been finalized.
Sceptre offers packages that brings tourists to Dublin, Shannon and Belfast. The tour operator will offer round-trip air fares via Aer Lingus from JFK that will start as low as $398, operating on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, according to a statement from Sceptre.
Sceptre will also offer platinum class service for $698, which will include first-class seating.
And, beginning Feb. 1, Sceptre will also provide Aer Lingus service from Newark, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Sceptre Tours has been offering flights to Ireland since 1980. Originally, Sceptre offered charters that included flights from New York to Shannon only, but in 1985 Sceptre added service to Dublin and, in 1989, flights to Belfast. Sceptre has also just announced a new travel package called Sceptre Golf.