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Farewell Andy McKenna

It is with heavy hearts we share that Andy McKenna has passed away. Known to all in the Irish travel industry, Andy McKenna, father of Stephen McKenna and uncle of Mary McKenna, blazed an impressive trail of travel across Ireland and further afield. His travel story, however, began in Sunny San Francisco in the sixties.

The Atlas Travel Story – A Story of Success

In 1967 a young Irish immigrant, Andy McKenna travelled to the United States and joined TWA. He worked his way up through the ranks. At the young age of 24, he founded Atlas Travel in San Francisco.

Atlas Travel became the first Irish-owned travel agency on the West Coast of the United States and for many years was the largest.

Atlas Travel Dublin followed, to cater for incoming tours and outgoing overseas travel. Andy was greatly supported by many Irish Americans working within the industry and was voted in as President of United Irish Societies at the age of 32 in San Francisco. This helped Andy secure a contract to do all Arch Diocese travel and the setup of the All Stars GAA travel to the US.

A Family Affair – Leisure & Corporate Travel

In the early 1970s, Andy returned home to expand the Atlas Travel Irish operation and offered a broad range of leisure and corporate travel services including its sporting division headed up by his brother Frank McKenna.

In 1977 Andy set up Irish Group Travel (with 9 other shareholders from the Travel Industry) and concentrated on chartering Aircraft to promote leisure travel to North America. Andy bought out the remaining shareholders and changed the name from Irish Group Travel to American Holidays.

Andy McKenna became the first Irish agent to charter flights offering discounted prices between Ireland and the USA. This advancement in air travel and changes to air regulation opened the travel industry to a much greater market, and the Atlas Travel Group began to truly thrive.

American Holidays became a very successful company, with offices in Belfast and Dublin, and over 50 employees. Andy sold this very successful business in 1994 and it became part of the TUI group of brands.

Multi-Award Winning

Atlas Travel, from its rather humble beginnings, became one of Ireland’s largest independent Travel Agencies, consistently ranked among the top Corporate Travel Management Companies in Ireland. Atlas Travel was awarded the Best Corporate Travel Management Company in 2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019 at the Irish Travel Industry Awards, it won the “Innovation in Travel Award” in 2017 at the Irish Travel Media Awards and was the first corporate travel company to secure a Deloitte Best Managed Programme Award.

Atlas Travel Services also earned the “Best Overall Customer Service Award” against competition from over 140 countries represented worldwide at the American Express Global Business Travel Conference.

In 2019, Atlas Travel was purchased by Club Travel Limited and is now part of the wider Club Travel Group. Together, Club Travel and Atlas provide corporate travel services to over 350 businesses across Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Source: https://atlas.ie/about-us/

Funeral Arrangements

Funeral arrangements are detailed here – https://rip.ie/death-notice/andrew-andy-mckenna-greystones-wicklow/540528

Raise a Glass

Raise a glass in memory of Andy McKenna, to a man that helped pave the way for Irish travel and for Irish to travel to the four corners of the globe and back. He certainly did his part to put Ireland on the map.

Deepest sympathies from the ITTN team to Andy’s wife Patricia, his children, all his family and many friends.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

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