Saturday 29 October 2016

Norwegian Air boss 'confident' that Cork-US flight permit will be issued

Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30

Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos. A new poll shows strong support for Cork-US service
Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos. A new poll shows strong support for Cork-US service

The chief executive of Norwegian Air, Bjorn Kjos, said he's confident that the airline's Irish subsidiary will receive approval to fly from Cork to the US.

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A poll undertaken for the airline by Red C shows 82pc of Munster residents said that if they were to fly to Boston or New York in the next 12 months, they would use a Norwegian service from Cork.

Dublin-based Norwegian Air International (NAI) has been trying to secure a permit from US authorities for the past two years to fly to America.

But the process was delayed by political and union opposition in the United States to the permit.

A number of European unions and airlines have also voiced their opposition.

But dozens of US and European airports and airlines have supported the plan.

The Irish government and a large number of agencies such as Fáilte Ireland and the IDA, as well as businesses and colleges, have called on the US Department of Transportation to approve the permit.

"As we await a final decision from the US authorities, this polling is a timely reminder that the views and needs of passengers should be put first," said Mr Kjos.

"We are confident the US Department of Transportation will approve Norwegian Air International's application, creating new jobs, more competition and affordable fares to consumers on both sides of the Atlantic."

Earlier this year, the US Department of Transportation said it could see no reason not to grant the permit and indicated that it intended to do so.

That prompted another deluge of opposition and support for NAI's plans.

US presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are among those who have urged NAI's application to be rejected. Last month, a top official at the Irish Department of Transport, Fintan Towey, said that attacks made against Ireland's employment and aviation laws by NAI opponents have been "irresponsible, unfounded and damaging".

Various executive branches in the United States now have decide whether to consent to the permit being granted.

But there's no timeline within which that decision has to be made, raising the prospect of the NAI's permit application being delayed again in light of the upcoming election in the United States.

NAI had hoped to launch its Cork-Boston service this summer, and a Cork-New York service next year.

Niall MacCarthy, the managing director at Cork Airport, said that the transatlantic NAI service would be a "hugely positive asset" and that low-cost transatlantic services from the city would "shake up the Irish marketplace".

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