Lack of preclearance ‘not an issue’ for Cork Airport

Passengers on Norwegian Airline’s new low-fares transatlantic flights from Ireland will be able to avail of US preclearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports. But Cork Airport said its lack of such facilities shouldn’t be an issue.

Cork Airport has said its lack of US preclearance facilities should not be an issue.

A spokesman said the airport in Providence, Boston, into which Norwegian will fly from Cork, will have minimum queues allowing passengers to clear customs and immigration quickly.

Norwegian will launch the flights in July from Dublin, Shannon and Cork to secondary airports on the east coast of America.

It will operate 12 flights a week from Dublin — daily to Stewart International near New York and five times a week to Providence near Boston; four flights a week from Shannon — two to Stewart and two to Providence; and three flights a week from Cork to Providence, Boston — on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Dublin and Shannon are among a handful of airports worldwide to offer US preclearance, which allows passengers to undertake all US inspections prior to departure. It means that passengers landing in the US are treated as domestic arrivals, allowing them to avoid immigration queues.

Shannon was the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to offer full US preclearance. Dublin is the only European capital to offer the facility.

But Cork Airport’s spokesman said: “It is not currently economically viable (to provide preclearance facilities) for Cork at this juncture unless directly government funded as we would have to raise airport charges significantly to recoup the costs. We operate on a fully commercial basis without any state or grant aid.”

Following some criticism about using secondary US airports so far outside New York and Boston, Norwegian has also announced the launch of a direct shuttle service from Stewart airport into downtown New York, provided by Coach USA. The service has been timed to meet Norwegian’s flight arrivals at Stewart. It will get passengers into Manhattan for $20.

Meanwhile, Cork Airport will mark the launch today of WOW Air’s new service to Reykjavik which opens up connections to 10 destinations in North America, including Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, LA, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

And separately, a new tourism industry group has been established in Cork to boost Chinese visitor numbers to the region.

The announcement came yesterday on the second day of the Asia Matters Cork Summit.

China has an outbound travel market of around 120m people with combined spending of close to $165bn.

It is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with up to 50,000 Chinese people expected to visit Ireland this year.

“There is no reason why these numbers can’t grow significantly in the future,” said Martin Murray, the executive director of the new tourism industry group.

The new group plans to engage with Chinese inbound tour operations based in London.

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