A new era of low-cost transatlantic flights is getting closer, with Norwegian saying it could fly to the US for as little as $69.
The low-cost carrier, which has booked slots to fly from Cork to Boston from March 2017, says it will introduce $69/€62 fares once a fleet of new aircraft arrives.
“I can promise you that you will see transatlantic flights on the 737 Max next year,” said Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl.
“And that’s when you will see the $69 fares.”
Norwegian is waiting on delivery of 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes that it says will reduce the cost of transatlantic services thanks to state-of-the-art features like more fuel-efficient engines and upgraded aerodynamics.
Norwegian operates flights from London to Boston from £135/€157 each-way, among other transatlantic routes with its current fleet - a figure that has been suggested as a ballpark for any US services from Cork.
Whether or not $69/€62 fares will be available from Cork depends on approval of the US routes, the schedule and the type of aircraft involved.
"However, not only are we are committed to launching the first transatlantic flights from Cork as soon as we're able, we’re also determined to make them as affordable as possible,” a spokesperson for Norwegian told Independent.ie Travel.
Similar to WOW air, which has introduced a raft of one-stop flights from Ireland to North America via Iceland, Norwegian's model supplements low base fares with budget airline staples like baggage and seat selection fees.
The airline first booked transatlantic slots from Cork Airport two-and-a-half years ago, but the delivery of routes to Boston and New York has been held up due to fierce opposition from aviation unions and other interests in the US.
The EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, has stated that she will pursue arbitration against the US in relation to delays which she believes contrary to the Open Skies agreement - a process that could be lengthy.
"At this stage, I’m not expecting any decision until after the US Presidential Election in November," said Niall McCarthy, Cork Airport's Managing Director.
"Having already had to cancel slots it had booked with ourselves and Boston in May and October, Norwegian has now booked slots for March 2017, which is the earliest the new transatlantic services can take off,” he added.
Despite the delays, McCarthy remains optimistic that the services from Cork will go ahead, he said.