Norwegian airline likely to route most US flights from Dublin
Norwegian Air International may fly 12 times a week from Dublin and three from Cork
Bjorn Kjos: Norwegian Air Shuttle chief executive says transatlantic flights should on average cost about $300 to $350 (€285 to €332) return from Dublin and Cork.
Dublin Airport is likely to get the majority of cheap US flights when Norwegian Air International announces details of its transatlantic services on Thursday.
However, it is likely that Norwegian will announce it will fly 12 times per week from Dublin to airports in New York and Rhode Island, while Cork will get three services, also to Rhode Island, with the possibility of further routes added in the future.
The flights from Cork will be its first regular transatlantic service, something for which business, tourist and political interests in the south and southwest have been campaigning for some time.
Local business groups, Munster MEP Deirdre Clune and two successive ministers for transport Shane Ross and Paschal Donohoe all lobbied Washington to approve Norwegian’s application for permission to fly to the US on the basis that it would launch services from Cork.
The State company Dublin Airport Authority owns both Cork and Dublin airports. It also supported Norwegian Air International’s application to the US department of transportation for a foreign air carrier’s permit.
One industry source said on Tuesday night news that Norwegian now intended to launch the bulk of its flights from Dublin could be seen as a blow to hopes that its plans would create opportunities for regional airports such as Cork and Shannon.
Dublin handled 27 million passengers last year, while Cork had 2.3 million and Shannon 1.74 million. Capacity at the capital’s airport is now stretched to the point where key airline customers such as Aer Lingus and Emirates have raised concerns about it.
Norwegian will fly from Dublin to both Stewart Airport, about 90km north of New York city, and TF Green Airport, in Providence, Rhode Island, more than 100km from Boston.
It will initially fly from Cork to Providence, but is also expected to announce services to the New York airport from Cork, possibly next year. It is understood that it is considering launching services to both US destinations from Cork at the same time.
While Norwegian has flagged fares as low as €59 one-way, it is unlikely many seats will be sold at these prices. The Scandinavian group’s chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, has said its transatlantic flights should on average cost about $300 to $350 (€285 to €332) return.
US airlines and pilots’ unions opposed its application for a US permit. They claimed it was using its Irish registration as a flag of convenience to hire crew on contracts issued by Asian companies, which would allow it to skirt labour protections offered in the EU and US.
Norwegian denied this and said that transatlantic crews’ terms of employment would be governed by either US or EU laws, depending on where they were based. It recently announced it was opening a number of US bases, including Stewart Airport in New Windsor in New York State.