Cork-Boston route may not get off ground this year
The launch of a highly anticipated route between Cork and Boston year might now be delayed.
Norwegian Air International has been planning to launch the first ever flights between Cork and the US this year. It's been eyeing four or five flights a week between the cities, commencing in May.
But protracted delays by US authorities in sanctioning the service has raised the distinct prospect that it might not now be launched this year.
DAA chief executive Kevin Toland said all the necessary Irish approvals have been granted to Norwegian, but that the airline is still waiting for final US approval.
The DAA controls the airports at Cork and Dublin.
He said it's "absolutely" a danger that the US service won't start this year.
"Cork Airport, the DAA, the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) have actually been engaged on the ground in direct conversations," said Mr Toland. "We've had direct support from the [Transport] Minister and his officials at the official level, but we're continuing to work very, very hard."
He conceded that the remaining timeframe for introducing the service in time for summer is "very short". "It's held up by political, not legal or practical challenges," said Mr Toland. "Until we get US approval, Norwegian can't put the tickets on sale."
US unions have been battling to prevent Norwegian from trying to use Ireland as a base for launching flights from Europe to the United States. Being based in Ireland would give Norwegian access to EU traffic rights.
Mr Toland said a lot of the opposition in the US to Norwegian is "ill-conceived", particularly in relation to the Cork service.