Transatlantic services from Cork Airport will service 10 cities

Q&A: How will Cork routes with Norwegian and Icelandic carriers benefit travellers?

In little over a month, Cork Airport has announced not just one but two new transatlantic services.

Norwegian Air International will offer direct flights from Cork to Boston and New York,while Icelandic carrier Wow Air has confirmed plans for a service from Cork to the US via Reykjavik.

When will flights be available?
Wow's service will serve eight US and Canadian cities from Cork via Reykjavik and will commence early next year. Norwegian Air International has begun detailed planning on its Cork-Boston service after receiving the go-ahead from US authorities late on Friday night.

On Friday, the US transportation department announced it would make an order granting a foreign carrier permit to Norwegian to operate the Cork-Boston service. This comes some two years after the Irish subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle first applied for the permit.


A spokesman for Norwegian said detailed planning was now underway for the new service which will operate four times a week and he expected the company would announce the exact start up date early in the New Year when it will also announce when it is taking bookings.

How long will the flights be?
The actual flying times between Cork and Boston will be six-seven hours. Norwegian intends to use Boeing 737-800s initially, to be followed by the new Boeing 737Max when it takes delivery of the first of these new planes in 2017.

The Boeing 737-800 series has 184-186 seats, depending on the configuration . The Boeing 737Max has a capacity of 189, but the configuration and the exact capacity is part of the detailed planning currently underway following Friday’s announcement, the spokesman said.

According to the Norwegian spokesman, the exact load factor (occupancy rate) on the new service is expected to be line with Norwegian's existing long-haul services from Europe, which are consistently above 90 per cent.

"In terms of Cork, recent polling carried out in Ireland and the Cork area specifically showed huge interest and support for the new routes to Boston and New York, so we are confident the routes will be popular and successful," he said.

How much will the flights cost?
The exact price on the Cork-Boston route will be determined by the detailed planning work, but the Norwegian spokesman said the company expected tickets prices to be similar to those which it currently offers on its London-Boston service: £135 one way and £250 return (about €161/€299).

The Irish Times has learned from aviation industry sources that there are no plans to introduce US immigration preclearance at Cork Airport. Preclearance currently operates at both Dublin and Shannon airports 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, similar to passengers flying from London Heathrow, Frankfurt and other European airports.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times