Norwegian's €129 transatlantic flights finally take-off from Ireland
After three years of speculation, negotiation and consternation, Norwegian's transatlantic flights from Ireland finally take-off today.
The low-cost airline will this weekend launch a sweep of direct flights from Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Shannon to the US East Coast.
Prices for the routes, which include the first scheduled transatlantic flight in Cork Airport's 56-year history, were at one point advertised for as little as €69. The promo fares have flown, however, with flights now starting from €129 each-way.
Even so, a return price of €258 (presuming you can find it) significantly undercuts standard fares from the likes of Aer Lingus, Delta and United.
Right now, Aer Lingus's cheapest New York offering is €229 each-way.
Unlike its competitors, Norwegian's planes are single-aisle, its prices do not include checked bags, food or drink, and it flies into smaller regional airports: New York Stewart International and T.F Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island.
Nevertheless, there is clearly a demand for low-cost, no-frills transatlantic travel. Norwegian says its Irish/US routes have been some of its fastest-selling ever.
"Travel should be affordable for all, so these new transatlantic flights offer more choice and lower fares that will allow as many Irish passengers as possible to fly," says the airline's, CEO Bjorn Kjos.
Cork's inaugural US flight takes off at 4.20pm today.
“The official history of Cork Airport was last published in 2011 in a book entitled 'Fifty Years have Flown'," points out its Managing Director, Niall MacCarthy.
"Today, a new chapter can be added to that book."
Shannon's twice-weekly Stewart service is scheduled to begin at 3.40pm tomorrow, while its new flights to Providence start Monday at 3.30pm.
Dublin's daily service to Stewart International kicks off at 2.30pm today, with its five-times-weekly service to Rhode Island following on Sunday at 3pm.
Norwegian passengers will use US Preclearance at Dublin and Shannon, though the Customs and Border Patrol facilities are not available at Cork.
The new flights are also expected to boost inbound tourism. Despite a fall-off in British visitor numbers, North American visits have been performing strongly - rising 23.3pc from January to May, according to the the Central Statistics Office.