Donald Trump could withdraw permit for Cork-Boston flights

Unlikely president-elect will take action despite anger of pilots’ association, say sources

The US Department of Transportation on Friday night granted a permit to Norwegian Air International to operate a transatlantic Cork-Boston service. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The US Department of Transportation on Friday night granted a permit to Norwegian Air International to operate a transatlantic Cork-Boston service. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

US president-elect Donald Trump will have an opportunity to reverse the decision by the US Department of Transportation to grant a foreign carrier permit for a new Cork-Boston air service.

Under US law, the president can “disapprove an order” by the US Department of Transportation within 61 days so the decision to grant a foreign carrier permit for Norwegian Air International for its Cork-Boston service will not be finalised until January 31st.

Aviation sources point out that while president Barack Obama said he did not intend to disapprove the order immediately, his term of office will expire before the 61 days are up, with Mr Trump being sworn in as president on January 20th.

However, the chances of Mr Trump overturning the decision are slim, aviation sources said.

They point out that Mr Trump would be siding with the Democrats if he was to do so even though he pledged to defend US jobs during the presidential election campaign.

The US Department of Transportation ruling, which came about two years after Norwegian first applied for the permit, has been roundly criticised by the Air Line Pilots Association of North America (ALPA).

They say it could lead to a flouting of US labour standards of pay and conditions.

ALPA president Tim Canoll said the association was considering all options to reverse the decision which he described as “an affront to fair competition and will ultimately result in the loss of US jobs and, potentially significant losses for the US international aviation industry”.

Both trade unions in the US and Ireland opposed the granting of a foreign carrier permit to Norwegian Air International, arguing that the company would hire staff on “Asian-type contracts” to avoid EU and US labour laws which ensure certain standards of pay and conditions.

Norwegian Air International has denied this, insisting that staff recruited to work on the Cork-Boston service would be employed under the labour laws of the country where they were based.

Support

Cork Airport managing director Niall McCarthy said that it was important that the new service was fully supported by people in Munster and the south of Ireland generally to ensure that it can grow and help develop tourism into the region.

Mr McCarthy pointed out that Cork would have two transatlantic services with Norwegian Air International now in a position to offer direct flights from Cork to Boston and New York, after Icelandic carrier, WOW announced plans for a service from Cork to the US via Reykjavik.

The WOW service from Cork will serve eight US and Canadian cities from Cork via Reykjavik and will commence early next year.

A spokesman for Norwegian Air International said detailed planning was now under way for the new service which would operate four times a week and he expected the company would announce the exact start-up date early in the New Year.

The price on the Cork-Boston route is yet to be determined but the Norwegian spokesman said the company expected tickets prices to be similar to those which it offers on its London-Boston service of £135 (€160) one-way and £250 return.

Meanwhile, aviation industry sources said that there were no plans to introduce US immigration preclearance at Cork Airport on scheduled services to the US.

It is understood that passengers using the Cork-Boston and the subsequent Cork-New York services will have to undergo immigration and customs clearance at their destination airport in the US.

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