Norwegian Air International to open transatlantic routes
Plan well advanced to begin flying from Cork and Shannon to Boston and New York
US pilots met president Donald Trump this week to voice their concerns at Norwegian’s entry to the market. Photograph: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Norwegian Air International’s plans to begin flying from Cork and Shannon to Boston and New York seem to be finally taking shape, three years after it first got its Irish airline licence and applied to the US authorities to be allowed to fly there.
Stewart International Airport, about 60 miles north of New York city, has emerged as the latest contender as a destination for some of the proposed flights from Ireland, which some reports say could include Belfast alongside the two Munster destinations.
Norwegian is not saying, but it has already confirmed that it is likely to fly to secondary airports in the US. Their charges are lower than the likes of New York’s JFK or Boston’s Logan, thus allowing it more scope to offer lower fares.
Stewart is also preparing to extend an incentive scheme that will allow it to offer discounts and other breaks to airlines launching new routes from there. As Norwegian has confirmed that it will establish a base there, the airline is likely to benefit from this also.
While Norwegian passed the regulatory barrier when the US department of transportation granted it a foreign air carrier’s permit in December, the opposition that delayed this in the first place did not go away. US pilots met president Donald Trump this week to voice their concerns at Norwegian’s entry to the market.
Only a very brave person would predict how the US president is likely to react. His administration has made some positive remarks about Norwegian’s plans, particularly in highlighting that the airline was buying lots of US-made Boeing aircraft for its fleet.
Additionally, the airports with which Norwegian has been talking, along with the businesses and politicians in their respective districts, seem to be happy to welcome it. Presumably they are not beyond doing some lobbying of their own.
Assuming that the flights go ahead, it would then be a question of whether there is a viable business flying between Cork, Shannon and Belfast and the US east coast. Watching how that, and Norwegian’s plans to offer low-cost long-haul travel between Europe, the US and Asia, play out, will make for interesting viewing.