Broad welcome for Cork-Boston flights on Leeside

Airport chief says Norwegian Air can do for transatlantic travel what Ryanair has done for European travel

The decision by the US Department of Transportation to grant a permit to Norwegian Air International to operate a transatlantic Cork-Boston service has been welcomed on Leeside.

Cork Airport managing director Niall McCarthy said the decision to grant the permit some three years after it was sought was "a game changer" for the airport and the southwest region.

"I firmly believe this will permanently transform the transatlantic market in Ireland and further afield for the better," he said.

"Norwegian will do for transatlantic travel what Ryanair has done for European travel, bringing lower fares, increased competition and growth to the overall market."


Mr MacCarthy added that he hoped the Cork-Boston service would be operating by early to mid 2017 and that services to New York would follow. He paid tribute to political, business and local government leaders in Ireland, the European Union and the US for their support.

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber, said securing transatlantic flights from the US directly into Cork would be a huge boost to business in the region.

“Transatlantic flights from Cork Airport has always been a top priority for businesses in Cork who will now see ease of doing business in the American market as new opportunities to attract business to Cork,” he said.

Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey and County Mayor, Cllr Seamus McGrath, said it would be a "significant boost" to the Cork region from a tourism perspective and could help drive investment in the region from the US.


Mr Lucey said he Mr McGrath will lead a small delegation to Boston on Sunday to meet tourism and business organisations with the message that the east coast of the US is now “directly accessible to the most productive and business friendly region in Ireland”.

DAA chief executive Kevin Toland said he was delighted that the process to allow Norwegian to begin services from Cork had been completed and he noted the company had received great support in both the US and Ireland in its efforts to help secure the permit .

Norwegian Air International also welcomed the announcement, which it said was “long overdue”.

“This approval finally makes it possible for us to plan the Cork to the US routes we, and many others, have been looking forward to. We also now look forward to our foreign carrier permit for Norwegian Air UK (NUK) being approved next,” said the Norwegian spokesman.

The announcement is likely to prompt opposition from unions and Norwegian’s rivals on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association and the European Cockpit Association.

They claim that Norwegian is using its Irish Air Operator’s Certificate as a flag of convenience to skirt labour laws and employ low-paid crew on contracts issued by companies in Asia.

Norwegian has consistently denied this, but the protests are understood to be behind the delay in the US department issuing the licence.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times