Friday 28 October 2016

Highly-anticipated route from Cork to Boston set to be delayed

Published 18/01/2016 | 17:29

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THE launch of a highly anticipated transatlantic air route between Cork and Boston slated to begin this year might now be delayed.

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Norwegian Air International has been planning to launch the first ever flights between Cork and the United States 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.

The chief executive of the DAA, Kevin Toland, said that 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 from Cork 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 Minister (Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe) 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, who added that the service would be transformational for Cork and its environs. “Until we get US approval, Norwegian can’t put the tickets on sale.”

US airline unions have been battling hard 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 service to the US from Cork.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he had spoken on a number of occasions directly with the US administration in relation to the planned Cork service.

Norwegian is also planning to launch a service between Cork and New York next year.

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