Monday 17 June 2019

EU Commissioner to raise Cork flight with US State Dept

Launch of Boston flights postponed

EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc
EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc

Sarah McCabe

The European Commission will bring a Norwegian airline's fight to launch transatlantic routes from Cork to the US State Department next month.

European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc plans to raise the issue of permit delays for planned transatlantic routes from Cork Airport with the State Department at the beginning of March. The State Department is responsible for international relations on behalf of the United States and is led by Secretary of State John Kerry, the former Republican candidate in the 2004 US presidential election.

Commissioner Bulc will meet with the State Department on March 1 under the auspices of discussing the de-carbonisation of aviation, but will also use the opportunity to raise Norwegian Air Shuttle's case, a spokesperson for the Commission said.

The low-cost European airline said last week that it had been forced to defer the launch of a new route between Cork and Boston planned for May.

The launch of the new route by its Irish subsidiary was shelved because it has not gained approval from the US Department of Transport, despite meeting all requirements under the EU-US Open Skies Agreement.

The airline said it was still committed to opening the route. It also plans to begin flights between Cork and New York in 2017.

As Norway is not a member of the EU, the airline established an Irish subsidiary early in 2014 to avail of the Open Skies Agreement. It lodged its application for the transatlantic routes shortly afterwards. It claims this is the longest pending application of its kind.

The Commission first informed US authorities they were in breach of the EU-US air transport agreement in November 2014. Commissioner Bulc has also raised the issue with US Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx, to no avail.

The US Department of Transport declined to comment when asked why it had not yet given its approval to the new routes.

One of the options open to the Commission is to pursue arbitration under the EU/US Open Skies Agreement.

The decision whether to pursue arbitration will not take place until after the Transport Commissioner meets with State Department officials, a spokesperson added.

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