US has 'huge economic interest' in Norwegian Air as it's set to fly low-cost from Cork to Boston
America has a "huge economic interest" in the success of Scandinavian airline Norwegian, which is planning to launch low-cost flights between Cork and Boston this summer using an Irish subsidiary, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today.
The subsidiary - Dublin-based Norwegian Air International (NAI) - was granted a permit last December that will enable it to fly between Ireland and the United States under the Open Skies agreement between the regions.
However, US aviation unions have been campaigning hard for President Donald Trump to either revoke or suspend that permit that was granted to NAI by the US Department of Transportation. The delay in granting the permit had threatened to spark a trade war between the US and the European Union.
Mr Spicer was asked today if Mr Trump planned to do revoke NAI's permit.
"On the case of Norwegian, my understanding, if I’m correct, that there is a deal in which they’re having 50pc of the crews and the pilots are American-based," he said.
"They’re flying Boeing planes. There is a huge economic interest that America has in that deal right now."
Mr Spicer said he didn't want to "get ahead of the president".
However, he added: "But just to be clear, I mean, when you’re talking about US jobs, both in terms of the people who are serving those planes and the person who’s building those planes.
"That’s a very big difference."
Mr Trump is due to meet airline chiefs in coming days.
Mr Spicer's comments will come as a relief to Norwegian and to Cork.