All eyes on SFO flights to India, Ireland

Strengthened economic ties between the Bay Area, India and Ireland are expected to be invigorated with new airline service to the two nations from San Francisco International Airport.

Air India officials announced this week that thrice-weekly direct flights between San Francisco and Bangalore, one of India’s largest cities, would start next May. On Oct. 27, the airline also plans on starting a flight from Delhi to Frankfurt, Germany, to San Francisco.

Irish airline Aer Lingus begins direct service four times per week between San Francisco and Dublin on Oct. 28. The airline is the first European carrier connecting to SFO on the heels of the Open Skies Agreement, which relaxed restrictions on European airlines’ travel routes.

Once Aer Lingus is up and running, at least one company, Irish economic development agency Enterprise Ireland, has said it will be seizing upon the opportunity to make inroads in the Silicon Valley high-tech sector, according to company Senior Vice President David Smith.

A handful of Irish companies already have offices in the Bay Area, including Elan Pharmaceuticals in South San Francisco, but Enterprise Ireland is looking forward to expanding further in software and electronics development.

Bay Area Economic Forum President R. Sean Randolph, who is working on a study into the Bay Area’s strengthened economic ties with India, said the southern Asian nation is likewise very interested in the SFO service.

The Indian economy was deregulated in 1991, allowing for easier global commerce to and from that country.

Business between India and the United States has steadily increased year over year, manifesting itself in product support and outsourcing of financial services.

“There’s a very large, highly educated Indian community that would like to live near the tech sector,” Randolph said. “Airlines understand that trend.”

tramroop@examiner.com

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