Transport Minister Shane Ross has ruled out providing US pre-clearance facilities at Cork Airport for people who want to board transatlantic flights, writes Sean O’Riordan.
The minister said there is no business case for such a service, although US border pre-clearance facilities are in place in both Dublin and Shannon airports.
Norwegian Airlines has announced it will fly from Cork, Dublin, and Shannon to non-hub airports in New York and Boston, starting from July 1.
Meanwhile, Icelandic airline Wow Air plans to serve eight US and Canadian cities from Cork via Reykjavik.
The company says that service will commence early next year.
Mr Ross replied to a question in the Dáil from Cork East TD, Kevin O’Keeffe, who said he was “deeply dissatisfied” with the minister’s decision, which he said would put Cork at a disadvantage compared to Dublin and Shannon.
“Cork Airport has had a number of major wins in the past number of months, with new routes opening,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
“Top among these new developments has been the decision by Norwegian Airlines to offer direct flights from Cork Airport to locations on the east coast of America.
“For passengers travelling to the United States, pre-clearance is a very attractive facility and one which the Department of Transport should consider to support the recent investment by Norwegian Airlines, and the future development of the airport,” he said.
Wow Air is due to launch flights this May from Cork, via Reykjavik, to eight major cities across the US and Canada.
Mr O’Keeffe said that Mr Ross’s reply, which was just two lines, “is indicative of the way he prioritises his role, and, I suspect, communities outside of the M50”.
“While securing pre-clearance rights may not possible in the near future, as the airline is only establishing itself at the airport, the department should be looking to the future, and its role in supporting the growth of routes to other locations in the United States,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
“Cork Airport is a major employer in the region, and any effort that can be made to secure its future should be explored.”
Norwegian Airlines, which is the sixth-largest low-cost carrier in the world, fought a two-year battle to get US department of transport approval for the flights.
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