O'Leary hits back at Sanders on Cork
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary is among a number of leading Irish figures who have hit back at US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders' opposition to a new American air route from Cork.
Sanders voiced his disapproval of the plan to grant Norwegian Airlines International a permit to fly between Cork and the US.
But in a joint letter sent to more than 50 senior US politicians who are members of the 'Friends of Ireland' caucus, Mr O'Leary and other supporters of Norwegian, including Fáilte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley, have urged them to back the airline's permit request.
"We ask that you support NAI's (Norwegian Air International's) request on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of American and Irish consumers and business people who will benefit from new, accessible, and affordable flights between our two countries and Europe," the letter states.
A rally was held yesterday in Washington DC to show support for NAI's plans.
The letter to the US politicians has also been signed by MEP Deirdre Clune; Kevin Toland, the chief executive of the DAA; Eamonn Brennan, the CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority; Michael Murphy, the president of UCC; and Ian Talbot, the CEO of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. There are 21 signatories in total.
They add: "To our dismay, opponents of NAI have repeatedly and maliciously impugned Ireland's aviation-safety oversight, regulatory structures and labour protections and labelled Ireland as a mere 'flag of convenience'. This is deeply inaccurate and misleading."
NAI, a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, has an Irish air operator's certificate.