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Operation Santa takes to the skies as thousands of children begin two weekends of FREE Ryanair Santa flights at Shannon Airport

15 December 2013

The wonder of Christmas unfolded in the skies this weekend for almost 2,000 children as Shannon Airport and Ryanair’s magical ‘Operation Santa’ had lift off.

The children were taken 15,000 ft into the skies to meet with Santa on board the Ryanair flights.  They also got to lap up the Christmas party atmosphere generated at the airport, complete with Santa’s elves, cartoon costumed characters, a Punch & Judy Show, balloon artists and a range of giveaways.

The Santa Flights mark the commencement of Ryanair’s eight new routes – Berlin, Paris, Fuerteventura, Warsaw, Faro, Munich, Nice and Krakow – at the end of March.  This was a continuation of a memorable weekend of community engagement at Shannon Airport which started on Friday night with a free Christmas music celebration with Ireland’s first lady of traditional music, Sharon Shannon, in front of 1,200 guests to salute the airport’s first year as an independent entity.

In all, over 4,500 adults and children will be carried on 24 flights to meet Santa by the time Operation Santa winds down on Sunday next in one of the most magical experiences of the year for children and their parents in the country.

Said Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey:  “It’s been an amazing weekend, to see the smiles of all of these children and the fun they were having made all this effort so worth it.  We wanted to do something to mark both the new Ryanair flights and the end of our first year as an independent airport and only made the final decision to do this six days ago.  It has been a busy week, to say the least, but also a magical one.

“It’s such a special time of the year and for us a time to say thank-you to all those who supported us in 2013.  We couldn't have thought of a better way to do that than with a fantastic treat like this for all these children.  We had 4,500 seats available and could have done with ten times the number.”

The FREE Santa Flights offer went live on Tuesday and within three hours the airport had received applications for 15,000 seats.

Speaking yesterday at the airport, Ryanair’s Maria Macken said:  “Ryanair is delighted to team up with Shannon airport and provide 4,500 free flights to see Santa in the sky.  This weekend has been a huge success and we look forward to welcoming more lucky children on board our free Santa flights next weekend.”

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