Ballysadare Beckons: Irish Airline, American Engines Carry a Couple Home

Friday, March 17, 2017

Famed Irish novelist Oscar Wilde once said you love someone because "they sing a song only you can hear." Paige Palmateer and David Conlon's tune was just written.

"Well, we met in a bar in South Boston, and I was there with my best friend, and David and his friends walked in, they came over and said 'hi,'" said Paige Palmateer, a communications manager at Pratt & Whitney, reminiscing about how she met her new husband David Conlon, an Irish national.

"It was just the way it evolved, anyways," Conlon said, sitting next to Palmateer at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury. "Just one thing led to another."

"Lots of phone conversations," Palmateer continued. "He was in Boston and I was in Hartford for a few months. It was funny, because I couldn't understand him on the phone for the first six months we were talking. That's maybe why we hit it off so well," she said, laughing.

"There was a lot of repeating," her husband added, grinning.

Palmateer and her husband, who is an agricultural contractor, are eager to get to his family home in Ireland to visit relatives and a four-legged friend.

"Me dog," Conlon said, showing a picture of "Rocky" on his cell phone.

"It keeps going back to the dog," Palmateer added.

Thankfully, the path getting there is much easier than it's ever been before.

"I would go down to JFK, take the train, take the subway – it was stressful, it was not the mood I wanted to be in when I was looking forward to going to see my boyfriend overseas," Palmateer said. "So now with the flight out of Bradley, it's ten minutes down the road, it's stress-free, it's hassle-free. I can't tell you how excited we are to have the convenience of Bradley right at our fingertips."

Late last year, Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus began nonstop trans-Atlantic service from Bradley International Airport to Dublin. It was the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight from Connecticut's largest airport in almost a decade.

"So far, the reception has been great. The marketplace has really taken to it," said Jack Foley, executive vice president, Aer Lingus, North America. He spoke to Pratt & Whitney Communications from a Boeing 757 about to depart to Dublin.

He says his airline was looking to expand capacity in the northeast. The decision to come to Connecticut centered heavily on international business travelers.

"This isn't a plane that is designed to go from Hartford to Dublin because frankly there is not enough people who want to go to those two cities. We had to position this airline as one that connects to all of Europe. We have 25 connecting cities over Dublin, and the average time of connection is an hour and five minutes," he said.

Mary Ellen Jones, vice president, Pratt & Whitney Sales – Americas is also on the board of the Connecticut Airport Authority. One selling point of Bradley, she said, is the airport has the right infrastructure and marketing plans to make this venture work.

"We see Aer Lingus as a great start and a great foundation for us. They want to know, can you fill the seats? So this is where we worked very closely with our local business and civic community, people like the Metro-Hartford Alliance and the chambers of commerce from different towns across the state. And companies, like UTC, like Cigna, like others who have a lot of employees who travel," Jones said.

"I doubt we would be here if it wasn't for Mary Ellen Jones, and frankly this aircraft wouldn't be here if not for the Pratt & Whitney engines on the wings," Foley added.

Indeed, the AerLingus 757 is powered by the reliable PW2000 engine. That same engine will soon carry a Pratt & Whitney employee – and her new husband – to the Emerald Isle. An easy trip that allows this couple to do as Irish poet Oscar Wilde said, "Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you!"

"We really owe our existence as a couple to the miracle of aviation," Palmateer said. "And we are hoping to take the Aer Lingus flight in the next month or two."

"ASAP," Conlon corrected. Rocky the dog is waiting.